Former University of Georgia offensive lineman Cade Mays is expected to make a smooth adjustment once he suits up for the Tennessee Volunteers.
Whenever that may be.
The 6-foot-6, 328-pound Mays left Athens for Knoxville in January as a transfer with two years of eligibility remaining, but he never put on the pads during Tennessee's very abbreviated spring practice session. It remains unknown whether Mays will be granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA, and it's also up in the air whether the Vols, the rest of the Southeastern Conference and the remainder of the Football Bowl Subdivision can stage a season this fall due to the coronavirus.
What is certain is that as soon as Mays does take the field for Tennessee, he will be reuniting with offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, who held the same role at Georgia when Mays was a five-star freshman out of Knoxville Catholic in 2018.
"It's probably pretty easy for a guy getting to use the same terminology that he was playing under," third-year Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt said. "It will probably be a seamless transition. Cade is a smart guy, and football is important to him."
Should Mays be immediately eligible, Tennessee could unveil a quartet of former five-star prospects sandwiching former four-star center and Alabama transfer Brandon Kennedy — Wanya Morris at left tackle, Trey Smith at left guard, Mays at right guard and Darnell Wright at right tackle. That lineup would relegate K'Rojhn Calbert and Jerome Carvin, who started on the right side in Tennessee's 23-22 topping of Indiana in January's Gator Bowl, as the top reserves.
Mays, the son of former Tennessee All-SEC guard Kevin Mays, made six starts at right guard, two starts at left guard and two starts at right tackle for Georgia last season. He was the starting left tackle for the Bulldogs during their 26-14 dumping of Baylor in the Sugar Bowl, which starting tackles Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson elected to bypass to focus on preparing for the NFL draft.
In Georgia's 27-0 whipping of Missouri last November, Mays was needed for significant time at center.
"His strength is his diversity," Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said last season. "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."
Former Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm referred to Mays as "the little guinea pig" of former line coach Sam Pittman, who is now the head coach at Arkansas.
Mays won the Charley Trippi Award for his versatile ways during Georgia's team gala in December. During the 2018 season, he made seven starts, played 75% of Georgia's offensive snaps in conference games, and earned Freshman All-America honors.
"It's really just second nature playing different positions, because I do it in practice," Mays said last season. "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 over there."
The Mays family hired attorney Tom Mars to lead the eligibility charge. Mars was able to get a pair of former five-star quarterback signees — Shea Patterson (from Ole Miss to Michigan) and Justin Fields (from Georgia to Ohio State) — immediately eligible at their new locales.
Pruitt would love to see how Mays could enhance Tennessee's offensive front this season, whether as a starter or vying all over the place.
"He spends a lot of time trying to improve as a player and figuring out a way to be the best player he can possibly be," Pruitt said.
Tennessee was ranked seventh in the SEC this past weekend, when the Birmingham News released its 74th annual preseason balloting from the league's 14 sports information directors.
Alabama and Georgia held the top two spots for the third consecutive summer, while Florida and LSU tied for third. Auburn was fifth in the voting and Texas A&M sixth.
Tennessee was 11th in last year's top-to-bottom preseason poll and 12th in 2018, when Pruitt took over after the calamitous 4-8 finish in 2017 that included an 0-8 SEC mark and the firing of Butch Jones.