Jeremy Pruitt isn’t about to let Cade Mays’ quest for an NCAA transfer waiver fade quietly into the night.
Tennessee’s coach made that much clear after Friday’s practice, when Pruitt turned a basic question about Mays’ role in practice into a chance to stump for a waiver.
The NCAA denied Mays’ initial bid for a waiver. Tennessee is appealing the decision.
Mays’ father, Kevin, is suing the University of Georgia after his right pinkie finger got caught in a folding chair and was severed during Cade’s 2017 recruiting trip to Athens. The lawsuit is ongoing.
The defendants in the lawsuit include the University of Georgia’s athletic association and board of regents, among other parties, along with five unnamed individuals, listed in the lawsuit as John Does.
“(Cade) had nothing to do with it. There’s a circumstance there obviously with a lawsuit between his parents and the University of Georgia,” Pruitt said. “And it was something that started while he was there. I’m sure he worked hard to be the best player he could be, and I’m sure there was probably pressure on both sides, from their coaching staff to him as a player.
“It’s just something that don’t happen a whole lot, so it is an unusual circumstance. Him electing to transfer and us applying for a waiver, to me, it’s just common sense. If there’s a lawsuit going on with your employer, it’s probably not the healthiest situation in the world, and that’s not bashing anybody at Georgia. That’s just common sense, to me. Hopefully he’ll get a chance to play this year. He’s working hard every day.”
Kevin Mays and his wife, Melinda, filed the lawsuit on Dec. 5, 2019. Cade Mays transferred to Tennessee in January after two seasons with the Bulldogs. His brother, Cooper, is a freshman offensive lineman with the Vols.
NCAA transfer rules require an undergraduate transfer to sit out a season unless that player receives a waiver. As an intraconference transfer, Mays also would require a waiver from the SEC.
Knoxville attorney Gregory P. Isaacs is representing Mays in his appeal. Isaacs did not represent Mays in the initial bid, and Isaacs said he’s optimistic that the NCAA will reverse its decision.
Mays, a junior, was a five-star recruit coming out of Knoxville Catholic. He committed to Tennessee while Butch Jones was UT’s coach before decommitting and signing with the Bulldogs.
The 6-foot-6, 328-pound Mays started 18 games during his two seasons at Georgia, where he took snaps at all five offensive line positions.
While his fate for this season remains in limbo, Mays continues to participate in preseason practices.
Pruitt applauded the offensive line’s performance in Friday’s practice.
“I was really pleased with our offensive line today,” Pruitt said. “They continued to improve, and we’re developing some chemistry up there. A lot of guys are getting a lot of different opportunities there. We’re moving some guys around.”
With or without Mays on the field this season, Tennessee’s offensive line, led by Trey Smith, is expected to be a team strength. All five starting linemen returned from last season, and several backups also have starting experience.
Blake Toppmeyer covers University of Tennessee football. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @btoppmeyer. If you enjoy Blake’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it. Current subscribers can click here to join Blake’s subscriber-only text group offering updates and analysis on Vols football.