Cade Mays didn’t waste any time bursting onto the scene as a college football prospect, getting attention from Southeastern Conference coaches long before he was eligible for a driver’s license.
The now-junior at Knoxville Catholic High School is not only a committed prospect for the Tennessee Volunteers, but he’s worked his way up the Scout rankings to be the No. 2-rated offensive tackle in the 2018 class and No. 17 prospect overall.
“It’s just a blessing to work hard and see everything has been paying off,” Mays told InsideTennessee. “With everything in the offseason, people’s eyes are starting to be open and seeing what I can do, going to these camps and proving myself. I’ve come a long way since my freshman year and just a long way in general. It’s great.”
The Scout four-star talent says he is up to 6-feet-6, 317 pounds and other schools realize he’s not going anywhere but to Rocky Top, following in his father Kevin Mays’ footsteps.
A spring and summer on the camp circuit have allowed the junior to get a better feel of what life in college will be like going against dynamic edge rushers. Although it was a challenge, Mays said it did him some good. The Irish are 3-1 overall and 1-0 in Class 4A, Region 2. They've outscored opponents 148-29.
“I feel better, like more confident,” the four-star said. “Last year in my first game I struggled. (Against Morristown West in Game 1 this August) I struggled. Then, last year there was a big difference in my game between the first game to the last game. I just improved. I was a totally different player. So I’m hoping that’s how it is this year. I just didn’t feel like myself in the first game last year. Then, when the end of the season came, I just formed into a different player. It’s just been like that my whole life.”
In December, Catholic trounced Pearl Cohn 48-8 to win the TSSAA Class 4A state championship in Cookeville. Mays said this year’s team could be even better.
“Last year we definitely didn’t have a team that was tight knit like we do this year. We’re just like a family this year because we only lost a few players from last year’s team. We’ve just got a lot of experience, a lot of old guys coming back and then a bunch of new freshmen that are stepping up — two on the offensive line. Then, we’ve got a wide receiver that’s crept up for us. It’s just the kids are getting older and filling the roles. It’s like a family. We weren’t a family last year and we’re a family this year. I definitely think it’s going to be easier than last year after starting off 2-4 (in 2015).”
When he’s not paving the way for the Irish offense, Mays plans to attend all of Team 120’s home games at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.
“(The direction) is definitely going way up,” Mays said of the Volunteers. “It’s gone way up since I’ve been committed. Seeing the process and how it’s been going over, I think we’ll definitely be a top 5 team this year. There’s no doubt in my mind.”
Communication between the blocker and the Tennessee coaches stays consistent.
“I try to call them once a week, twice a week. School being back in session now, it’s just been tough,” Mays said.
Stay tuned to InsideTennessee’s Gate 21 feature for updates on Mays and his recruitment.