Tennessee offensive linemen Cade Mays met with the media on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the season and his transfer from Georgia.
This is the first time we’ve heard from Mays since donning the orange.
Mays described what it was like being in the facility and around his new teammates, some that he’s been friends with for many years.
“As far as the emotions, even when I went to UGA, I still had great friends on this team, and we talked all the time. So just coming back and re-bonding those friendships and strengthening them, it was awesome to come back and see all my friends and be a part of this team.”
One of the biggest draws back to Tennessee was being able to play alongside his brother Cooper again. Jeremy Pruitt mentioned it numerous times that he was going to recruit Cooper hard, no matter what.
The bond between brothers and the opportunity to play together was never lost on Cade.
“It’s been an unreal experience. We got to play for a state championship in high school and won that. We got to do a lot of things growing up together. One of our dreams was to play college football together. Now that that’s a reality, it’s unreal. On my first play, I looked over, and he was right next to me, so it was unbelievable to see that become a reality. Afterward, we talked about it. We are just both ecstatic that we both get to be out on the same field at an SEC level and compete. It’s just awesome.”
Cade also discussed his time at Georgia and the relationships he built in Athens.
“It wasn’t the right environment for me.” Mays mentioned, “I made some great memories there; I’ve got friends for life down there. It just wasn’t the right environment for me. I obviously transferred, and now I’m here, and I’m happy with where I am.”
Things were awkward for Cade as he waited on a decision from the SEC, especially on the opening Saturday of the season. Mays was told he couldn’t travel with the team to Columbia since he was technically still ineligible.
“I watched the game from home, and it was something that I hadn’t done before,” Mays said. “It was uncomfortable, made me really uneasy. But seeing that my team got the win made me very happy, and the guys played well, so I was there to support them.”
Mays was very thankful to all of the supporters during his uncertainty, especially with the #FreeCadeMays movement.
“I embraced it. I was very thankful that the fanbase fought for me the way they did and that my teammates fought for me the way they did. I was very thankful that they supported that.”
The trip to Athens was always going to be the one circled on the calendar. But, as Cade mentioned in his zoom meeting, he still has strong relationships with his former teammates.
“Definitely after the game, there were some funny comments. Those guys are still some of my best friends. We talk to this day. Those relationships never really change. Just being able to compete against them was just like practice. It was fun.”
This hasn’t been the best two weeks for this offensive line, coming off losses to Georgia and Kentucky. So, I didn’t expect Mays to be satisfied with the way his unit has played.
Cade said the play of the offensive line was “Inconsistent,” as Tennessee tries to establish a dominant front five. However, it won’t be an easy task this week, with an Alabama team that will bring multiple looks.
Tennessee needs Mays and Trey Smith to lead this group to better success on the field. But, Cade talked about having the chance to even play next to one of his best friends.
“It was awesome. It was something that we’ve talked about since my sophomore and junior years of high school. For that to come to fruition, it was awesome to look over and see him lined up next to me. I’m comfortable wherever I play. If I get more left tackles reps and get to play next to him, that will be awesome.”
It’s been a long and winding road for Cade Mays to end up back in Knoxville playing for Tennessee. But, it definitely sounds like he’s grateful for the opportunity and hoping to turn things around with his teammates.
The Vols get another chance on Saturday, as Alabama is heading to town.