Music City Bowl Recap: Purdue Tops Tennessee in OT 48-45
Tennessee offensive lineman Cade Mays has officially announced his decision regarding the 2022 year on Saturday evening. After two years on Rocky Top, Mays announced that he will not be returning to Tennessee in 2022 and instead will be declaring for the NFL Draft.
Mays’ announcement came in the form of a post on Instagram.
“Being a kid from a small town in East Tennessee, it was an honor to wear orange and white and play at Neyland Stadium in front of all the amazing fans we have here in Knoxville,” Mays said in the post. “I would like to thank God for the blessings he has given me and my family for the support, love, and guidance they have given me.”
“I am excited to continue to pursue my dream of playing in the NFL and will be entering the 2022 NFL Draft,” Mays said.
Mays began his collegiate career at Georgia in 2018 and 2019 but transferred to Tennessee for his junior and senior years. During his final season in Knoxville, Mays was selected to the AP and coaches second-team All-SEC roster. However, due to a persistent ankle injury, Mays did not play in the regular-season finale against Vanderbilt or the bowl game on Thursday against Purdue.
Tennessee offensive tackle Cade Mays declares for the NFL Draft. Vols will return four of five starting offensive lineman but lose their top one. pic.twitter.com/LKe1j7q7Wd
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) January 1, 2022
In November, Tennessee defensive back Alontae Taylor also made his declaration for the NFL Draft and did not play in the Music City Bowl to get healthy. However, since Taylor’s announcement, the Vols have learned that quarterback Hendon Hooker and wide receiver Cedric Tillman do intend on returning to Tennessee once again in 2022 under head coach Josh Heupel.
“To all of my teammates, my brothers, thank you for your unwavering commitment to change the culture at Tennessee and leave it better than we found it,” Mays wrote in his post on Saturday. “The memories we made and the impact you have had on my life simply cannot be put into words.”
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In mid-December, Mays did give an update on his thought process in deciding whether to return to Tennessee or turn pro.
“I haven’t made a decision,” Mays said a few weeks ago on the Tennessee Prime show about his future. “I’m in the middle, 50/50. But I love this school, I love my teammates. I would love to come back and play another year with my brother, but I’ve got a great opportunity to go fulfill a dream and go play at the next level.”
During that conversation on the Tennessee Prime show, Mays said that he was looking for an NIL deal at Tennessee at the time to cover what he could have been making in the NFL. And in his words, he was looking for “third or fourth round money.”
Cade Mays was a tremendous Tennessee football player that carried on a family legacy. Mays’ father, Kevin Mays, was an All-SEC offensive lineman for the Vols in 1994. Not to mention, Cade will be able to pass the legacy on to his brother, Cooper Mays, a starting sophomore guard on Tennessee’s line.