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Tennessee Athletics photo / Tennessee senior right tackle Cade Mays celebrates with coach Josh Heupel after the Vols' 45-42 win at Kentucky on Nov. 6.

Two seasons at Tennessee after two seasons at Georgia comprised enough college football for Cade Mays.

The 6-foot-6, 325-pound senior right tackle of the Volunteers announced Saturday night on social media that he would not pursue the extra year of eligibility implemented by the NCAA after the coronavirus outbreak. Mays suffered an ankle injury in Tennessee's 11th game this season against South Alabama and did not play in the win over Vanderbilt or during Thursday's overtime loss to Purdue in the Music City Bowl.

In his announcement, Mays thanked former Vols coach Jeremy Pruitt and current coach Josh Heupel and said it was a blessing to get to play with younger brother Cooper.

"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 wrote. "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. The memories we made and the impact you have had on my life simply cannot be put into words.

"I am excited to continue to pursue my dream of playing in the NFL."

Mays was a key part of Tennessee's record-setting offense in 2021 but struggled to stay healthy, getting hurt three plays into the Ole Miss game, which caused him to miss the following week's trip to Alabama. He earned Southeastern Conference offensive lineman of the week after the 62-24 victory at Missouri, when the Vols rushed for 458 yards and amassed 683 total yards, and after the 45-42 win at Kentucky, when he did not allow a pressure or commit a penalty.

It wasn't until the 10th game against top-ranked Georgia when Mays yielded his first sack of the season.

Mays was a five-star member of Georgia's 2018 signing class, earning Freshman All-America honors that year and making 11 starts and playing five positions for the 2019 Bulldogs. He missed Tennessee's 2020 opener at South Carolina before being ruled eligible by the SEC as an intraconference transfer, and he sat the final two games that same season against Vanderbilt and Texas A&M due to injury.

Tennessee's starting five linemen at the Music City Bowl — left tackle Darnell Wright, left guard Jerome Carvin, center Cooper Mays, right guard Javontez Spraggins and right tackle Dayne Davis — are expected back in Knoxville for the 2022 season.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.

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