But somehow the Vols preserved and got back on track to finish the year 8-4 and earned a trip to only their second bowl game in seven seasons, beating Wisconsin in the now defunct Garden State Bowl. That started a run of seven straight bowl appearances which was finally ended in 1988. The Vols have added 14 straight since that year for 21 in the last 22 years.
Bill Mayo was there for the resurrection of Tennessee football, as he earned first team All-SEC honors in 1983 and 1984 and was selected to play in the 1985 Senior Bowl. He helped lead the way for Tennessee's first 1,000-yard rusher in 1983 when Johnnie Jones gained set a school record 1,116 yards. In 1984, Mayo & Co. carved out enough running room for Jones to eclipse his mark with 1,290 rushing yards – a record that stood for another 11 years.
Twenty years later, Bill Mayo returns to his alma mater from his hometown in Dalton, Ga., with 6-foot-31/2, 260-pound Cameron Mayo, an athletic offensive lineman ranked No. 78 nationally by The Insiders. The younger Mayo has many of the same attributes that made his father successful, including quickness and speed. Cameron runs a 5.15 time in the 40, a 4.91 20-yard shuttle and is noted for his ability to cut off linebackers. He's also a strong technician with a solid base who has good leverage. He could play either guard position at the next level but Tennessee is believed to like his potential to develop into an exceptional center. He graded out at 88 percent for Dalton High School his senior year.
The Insiders Jamie Newberg offers the following evaluation of Mayo. "An offensive lineman blessed with great feet and excellent technique. Cameron May isn't the biggest or the strongest offensive lineman in the Top 100, but because of his skills, he is one of the best. Has the ability to add another 40 pounds of muscle in the right strength and conditioning program and be a star interior lineman on the next level."
Tennessee fans have already seen the power of the legacy this week when quarterback Brian Brohm chose Louisville over the Vols. So Cameron Mayo to Tennessee figures to be a slam dunk — right? Ahh, but there's the rub, make that AU is the rub as in Auburn. The Tigers have already received a commitment from Mayo who visited the loneliest village on the plains last weekend. But he's giving Tennessee a look before deciding between the Tigers, Vols and Ole Miss Rebels.
We had a great visit to Auburn," Bill Mayo told Newberg. "They did a great job of rolling out the red carpet not just for the kids but the parents too. In a certain sense Cam is still committed to Auburn, but he promised Tennessee he would visit so he will this coming weekend. After that, we will sit down as a family and weigh the pros and cons between Auburn, Tennessee and Ole Miss."
But first comes a reunion with his Tennessee family.