Tennessee has already had a number of players named to preseason award watch lists in the month of July. On Tuesday, two more Vols were added to a prestigious award watch list.
Both Trey Smith and Cade Mays were named to the Outland Trophy preseason watch list on Tuesday, joining 83 other interior offensive and defensive linemen on the list. The Outland Trophy is awarded annually to the top interior lineman in college football and is judged by the Football Writers Association of America. The award is named after John Outland, one of only a few college football players to be named an All-American at two different positions.
Senior Trey Smith and junior Cade Mays — who transferred from Georgia earlier this offseason — highlight a star-studded list of offensive guards, tackles, centers, and defensive tackles. Tennessee is one of 17 schools to feature at least two players on the list, with Alabama leading the way with four players on the watch list. Reigning Outland Trophy winner Penei Sewell of Oregon is also on the list. Smith and Mays are two of the 14 SEC players on the watch list.
Smith returns as the most decorated Vol on the 2020 roster. The 6-foot-6, 335-pound lineman was a Freshman All-American in 2017 before blood clots in his lungs sidelined him that offseason and halfway through the 2018 campaign. But Smith bounced back in a big way in 2019 and remained healthy, earning First Team All-SEC honors as Tennessee’s starting left guard. Smith has already been named a preseason All-American by Athlon, Sporting News, and Walter Camp, and he’s been named to the Wuerffel Trophy preseason watch list as well.
Right now, Cade Mays is still waiting to hear back from the NCAA about whether or not he will be eligible to play for Tennessee in the 2020 season. If Mays does get to play, he’ll likely be the Vols’ starting right guard and will have high expectations.
At Georgia, Mays started 18 of the 25 games he played in for the Bulldogs and was a Freshman All-American in 2018. As a sophomore last year, the 6-foot-6, 328-pound lineman played at every position along the offensive line and started 11 total games. Mays started six games at right guard, two at right tackle, two at left guard, and one at left tackle. He also played at center against Missouri. Mays has also been named a preseason All-American and a preseason All-SEC player.
Both Smith and Mays were five-stars coming out of high school, and both played within Tennessee’s state borders.
The recipient of the 75th Outland Trophy will be announced in early December. The official presentation to the winner will be made in Omaha, Nebraska at the Outland Trophy Awards Dinner, scheduled for Jan. 13, 2021.
Tennessee has had two different players win the Outland Trophy in its 75 years of existence. Steve DeLong won the award in 1964, and John Henderson won it in 2000. Henderson was also a finalist for the award in 2001, and Antone Davis was a finalist in 1990.