Offensive lineman Cade Mays could be able to play at Tennessee in 2020.
The former Georgia offensive lineman transferred to the Volunteers over the offseason and initially had his request to play immediately denied by the NCAA. But Mays and Tennessee appealed that decision and UT coach Jeremy Pruitt said Thursday that Mays’ waiver had been approved by the governing body. All that’s left is approval by the SEC for Mays to play right away.
“They approved Cade’s appeal,” Pruitt said Thursday via Rivals’ Volquest.com. This has always been a two-step process. The next thing is the SEC. It’s good that our governing body decided to allow him to play. I haven’t had a chance to talk to [SEC commissioner Greg Sankey] much about it. I know this. Everything from this pandemic, Greg Sankey has done a great job from a leadership standpoint with everyone in the conference. His No. 1 thing has always been his protection of the players and putting our student-athletes first. I have a lot of confidence in the outcome.
“I’m not exactly sure on all the rules on NCAA transfers. We might be the only conference or they might all be this way when it comes to transfers in the conference. I don’t know. I do know that the SEC in the past has not allowed that. So this would be a waiver through the SEC.”
The SEC has its own rules that govern transfers within the conference, so Mays’ ultimate eligibility in 2020 is left up to the conference.
And while there’s no guarantee that Mays will be in Tennessee’s starting lineup when the team opens its season on Sept. 26, the circumstances of his transfer are certainly unique enough to make a very compelling case to the conference that he should be able to play right away.
A lawsuit and a severed pinkie
Shortly after Mays told Georgia he was transferring, news emerged that his father Kevin had filed a $3.5 million suit against the school in December after he lost his pinkie finger at a recruiting event in 2017.
According to the suit, Kevin Mays’ finger got trapped in a folding chair after he got up at the event. The force of the chair closing on his finger allegedly caused the pinkie finger to be “shot across the floor.” The finger was allegedly then picked up by former offensive line coach Sam Pittman, now the head coach at Arkansas.
The finger was not able to be reattached.
Kevin Mays previously played at Tennessee, and Cade’s younger brother is also a member of Tennessee’s 2020 recruiting class. Cade Mays was a five-star recruit in the class of 2018 at Georgia and was ranked as the No. 3 offensive tackle in his class. Should the SEC allow him to play in 2020, he’ll likely become a starter on Tennessee’s offensive line. That would be a huge boost for a team that’s now ranked No. 15 in the AP Top 25, thanks to the absence of Big Ten and Pac-12 teams in the poll.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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