Tennessee offensive lineman Cade Mays has won his appeal and has been granted immediate eligibility, pending approval from the SEC, Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt said
“Today we heard back from the NCAA and they approved Cade’s appeal,” Pruitt said following practice. “This has always been a two-step practice. The next thing is the SEC, but it’s good that our governing body decided to allow him to play.
“Now we go to the SEC. I haven’t had a chance to talk to Greg (Sankey) about it. I know this from the pandemic, Greg Sankey has done a great job from a leadership standpoint with everyone in the conference. His No. 1 thing has been the protection of the players, putting our student-athletes first. I have a lot of confidence in the outcome.”
Mays was originally denied immediate eligibility by the NCAA. Now that he has won his appeal, he must away clearance at the conference level.
“I’m not exactly sure on all of the NCAA rules with transfers,” Pruitt said. “We might be the only conference, or they might all be this way when it comes to conference-to-conference transfers, but I do know the SEC in the past has not allowed that, so this would be a wave through the SEC.”
Mays joined his little brother, Cooper, on campus for the spring semester after Tennessee officially announced the addition of the oldest Mays brother on Jan. 9. The younger Mays brother signed with the Vols during the early signing period as a four-star center out of Knoxville Catholic High School. Cade Mays played at Knoxville Catholic as well, but signed with Georgia out of high school following the firing of Butch Jones. Mays was once committed to the Vols but decommitted prior to Jones’ firing.
Mays was ranked the No. 22 overall player in the class of 2018 according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. He was considered the No. 1 player in the state of Tennessee and the No. 3 offensive tackle in the country.
At Georgia, Mays started six games at right guard, two at right tackle, two at left guard, and one at left tackle as a sophomore this past season, and he even played at center in the Bulldogs’ match-up with Missouri. Mays played in all 14 games this season after playing in 11 of 14 games as a true freshman a season ago. He was named to the coaches’ All-SEC Freshman team in 2018 and was a Freshman All-American as well.
Cade and Cooper’s father, Kevin Mays, played for Tennessee from 1991-1994. He was an All-SEC guard and offensive captain in 1994.
Tennessee is scheduled to kick off its season on Sept. 26 against South Carolina at 7:30 p.m. ET. The home opener for the Vols is scheduled for Oct. 3 against Missouri.