ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia sophomore offensive lineman Cade Mays committed to Tennessee during his recruitment before signing with the Bulldogs, but he is taking no pleasure in this season's difficult start for the Volunteers (0-2).
"It's definitely been tough," the 6-foot-6, 318-pounder from Knoxville said. "I want to see all teams in the SEC do well each week. Obviously my dad went to Tennessee and my brother (Cooper) is going there, and it's bigger than the football aspect.
"It's a career path for all of us, and we all want each other and each other's teams to do well."
Kevin Mays was an All-Southeastern Conference guard for Tennessee in 1994, and Cade has taken early steps on a path that could lead him to similar recognition a generation later. After making seven starts last season as a freshman at either right guard or left tackle, Mays has been even more versatile on assistant Sam Pittman's offensive front with the Bulldogs off to a 2-0 start.
Through lopsided wins over Vanderbilt, 30-6, and Murray State, 63-17, Mays has played right guard, right tackle and left tackle.
"He's very valuable, and his strength is his diversity," Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said. "He's very smart. He practices all those positions. What I love about Cade is that regardless of what position he's playing, he's got fire in his belly. Cade is a competitor, and he loves to win.
"When we score a touchdown, Cade is the first guy to celebrate with the back. He blocks downfield. I love the way he plays the game, because he plays it the right way."
Mays has started at right guard each of the first two games, but the former five-star prospect shifted to right tackle by the third possession last Saturday.
"It's really just second nature playing different positions, because I do it in practice," Mays said. "Really, all the guys on the offensive line know what everyone is doing. When you're at guard, you're playing in more of a phone booth and watching for defensive side movements.
"When you're on the outside, you're seeing more of the field, and you are looking for the pressure and where it's coming from. When you're at tackle, you're going to be facing your faster rushers, whereas you're facing bigger and stronger guys at guard."
Asked what position he prefers most, Mays responds with wherever he is playing the best that day.
Mays is closer to his days at Knoxville Catholic than a potential opportunity in the NFL, but he knows playing multiple positions could make him valuable in the eyes of professional scouts.
"It definitely helps," he said. "They always travel seven offensive linemen in the NFL, and being able to play every one of those positions will help me should somebody go down over here or somebody go down over there."
Playing the plethora of positions has earned the respect of his teammates and has resulted in Mays cherishing every Saturday for how much fun they can be.
"He's kind of like Coach Pittman's little guinea pig," junior quarterback Jake Fromm said with a smile. "It's like, 'Cade, go here,' and, 'Cade, go there.' Cade is an awesome dude who works hard, and it's great to see this carry over to the field for him."
Said Mays: "It has been a blast, especially at home. No matter what position I'm playing, there are 93,000 people here to watch us, and that's awesome."