After his initial request for immediate eligibility was denied, Tennessee offensive lineman Cade Mays has won an appeal to the NCAA for immediate eligibility, Volunteers coach Jeremy Pruitt announced Thursday. The Georgia transfer is expected to be an immediate starter for Tennessee, which opens the season against South Carolina on Sept. 26. Pruitt noted that Mays will still need SEC approval to play but told reporters, "I have a lot of confidence in the outcome."
Mays is considered the No. 13 offensive line prospect in CBS Sports' 2021 NFL Draft prospect rankings. He is a Knoxville, Tennessee native and former five-star prospect from the class of 2018. He initially committed to play for the Volunteers, but re-opened up his recruitment in November 2017 as the Volunteers struggled to a 4-8 record in Butch Jones' final season as coach.
He ended up at Georgia and started in 18 games in two years before he chose to transfer to Tennessee in January after offensive line coach Sam Pittman left for the Arkansas job. Mays' brother, Cooper, is a freshman offensive lineman for Tennessee. Their father, Kevin, played for the school from 1991 to 1994.
Getting Mays eligible should be a huge boost to a Tennessee team that ranked 98th in scoring offense last season with two five-star freshmen at the tackle positions. Mays and projected first-round draft pick Trey Smith are likely to play at the guard spots, which will give the Vols four former five-star players on their offensive line.