The nose guard sat out last season while redshirting at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College to save a year of eligibility and was sidelined during preseason camp with a concussion, which kept him out the first two games of the season.
"I came back, I think, pretty strong as a run stopper," Mayes said.
"I was shocked actually," Mayes said. "I was sitting down talking and had no clue what was going on. They called my name and I was like, `What do they want?' I appreciate getting noticed for some of the little things I do."
The 6-foot-4, 321-pound Mayes started seven games and finished the regular season with 28 tackles, a sack and five quarterback pressures.
"He gave us a presence in the run game," defensive line coach Chris Wilson said. "There's an old saying in the run game: If you're not strong in the middle, it's really difficult to be a good run-stopping defense. Him with his size and what we were asking him to do, he really became an efficient guy for us, could clog the middle up for us."
`Lukewarm' response from Georgia fans on bowl tickets
Response from Georgia fans to going to the Gator Bowl has been "lukewarm," athletic director Greg McGarity said Thursday.
"Usually what happens in situations like this as we saw with really every other bowl we've been to, even in Memphis (for the Liberty Bowl), we didn't move a lot of tickets through our office but the secondary market a lot of times has better seats than we do," McGarity said.
McGarity thinks Georgia will end up selling about 7,500 of its 15,000 ticket allotment.
The SEC will absorb the cost of unsold tickets out of its revenue distribution, which comes from that school's piece of the pie divvied up during spring meetings in Destin, Fla.
"It hurts us on the back end," McGarity said.
McGarity expects about 15,000 Georgia fans still to attend the game.
Many of the regular $65 tickets in Georgia's allotment are behind the end zones in EverBank Field. Club level seats are priced at $125.
Tickets through VividSeat, a secondary ticket marketplace, have a median ticket price of $100, making it the 13th most expensive bowl game.
Bobo to Mason: Relax and play ball
Quarterback Hutson Mason will have prepared a few weeks for his second college start in the bowl game compared to one game week for Georgia Tech after Aaron Murray was lost for the season with a torn ACL.
"Early on the first couple of practices, it was more like spring ball when you're calling plays, not necessarily game planning anything, you're working on fundamentals and trying to work on some things you may want to try to improve from the season," offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said.
Bobo is trying to get Mason into a routine that suits him and his style of play.
"I've been pleased," Bobo said. "I still want him to be Hutson Mason. We talked about that a little bit today. `I don't want you to try to Aaron Murray or try to be Mike Bobo. I want you to be Hutson Mason and we'll do things to fit your strengths and you've got to be relaxed and play ball."
Bobo said Georgia will have its entire gameplan in for Nebraska before the team wraps up its on-campus bowl practices on Saturday.
Coaches break down Terry move to defense
When Tramel Terry got his scholarship offer for Georgia at the Dawg Night camp in 2011, he was playing cornerback in one-on-one situations, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo remembered.
Now, Terry has moved to safety for Georgia after practicing this year at receiver.
Bobo and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham addressed Terry's move for the first time Thursday.
"He was a hybrid guy in high school," Bobo said. "He didn't play a lot of defense, but he didn't play a lot of receiver either. He was more of a running back. He was an athlete signee and talking to him when we recruited him as a guy who could probably play both."
Bobo said Georgia looked at personnel and addressed a need with the move.
Grantham said Terry showed explosiveness against a ball-carrier in a scrimmage this week.
"Running backs in this league are pretty big and physical and he's a pretty big, physical guy who can run," Grantham said of the 6-foot, 184-pound freshman who is redshirting. "He has some cover skills athletically to cover slot receivers, tight ends do those things, but he can also catch the ball. That creates turnovers and that's something that we've really been good at before this year and a guy like that can make some plays for you."
This and that
Reserve quarterback Christian LeMay missed his second straight day of practice. "He's going through some things personally right now," Bobo said. Richt said LeMay was expected back on Friday.
Cornerbacks Damian Swann (strained neck) Shaq Wiggins (concussion) were limited in practice on Thursday.