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Five star tackle officially decommits from the Vols, Georgia in the hunt?

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Will the last recruit out of Knoxville please turn out the lights?

Cade Mays, the #2 offensive tackle in the country and a five star prospect according to 247Sports decommitted from the Vols this morning after being committed for nearly two years.

It’s bad enough to lose a player of that caliber. But the really depressing part for Tennessee fans is that the 6’6, 315 pound senior should have been as much of a lock to play in Neyland as anyone could. He attends Knoxville Catholic High, which is situated literally a fifteen minute drive from Butch Jones’ office.

He’s visited for essentially every Tennessee home game since 2015. And to top it all off, his father Kevin played for Phil Fulmer, was a team captain, and an All-SEC selection for the Vols in 1994. If ever there was a slam dunk in recruiting, this would be it.

But as Butch Jones’ standing in Knoxville has become ever more tenuous so has Mays’ commitment. He visited Clemson a couple of weeks ago, is set to visit Tuscaloosa and possibly South Bend, and this past weekend was in Athens to see Georgia play Will Muschamp’s Gamecocks. Some crystal ball predictions have already come in for Mays to sign with Georgia.

There are some relationships that could help pull the elite offensive lineman to the banks of the Oconee. He’s been playing at camps and all-star events next to offensive guard Jamaree Salyer of Pace Academy since the two were sophomores, and Salyer has made Mays aware that he’d like to play next to him in college. Salyer, the nation’s top guard prospect, has been on UGA commitment watch for weeks, and you’d have a hard time finding a national recruiting analyst who doesn’t believe he ends up in Athens.

It’s also worth remembering that Jim Chaney served as the offensive coordinator in Knoxville under first Lane Kiffin then Derek Dooley from 2009 to 2012, at times scoring more points than he had any business scoring despite a makeshift offensive line and inexperienced quarterbacks. One expects that the elder Mays probably knew who Chaney is and what he wants to do offensively before his son was ever a coveted recruit. Sam Pittman also served a stint as the offensive line coach at Tennessee in 2013, coaching Volunteer standout Juwaun James and a unit that finished in the top five in the nation in sacks allowed.

In short, Mays and his family may be more familiar with the setup in Athens than one might think.

(pictured: UGA commit Warren Ericson, Cade Mays, Sam Pittman, Jamaree Salyer, and Trey Hill. That’s a lot of large sons.)

I would caution UGA fans about getting too excited over this news just yet. I think the Mays family knows the writing is already on the wall: Butch Jones will not be the head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers on National Signing Day 2018. It’s relatively unlikely that he’ll be in that position on December 20th when Cade intends to sign as part of this year’s new football early signing period.

If somehow Butch is still on the job, Mays very well might be headed elsewhere, possibly to the Classic City. Likewise, the longer Tennessee lingers in coaching limbo, the more time they give other schools including Georgia the chance to build a strong relationship with Mays and his family.

But if the Creamsicle Collective make a splashy hire soon after the 2017 season concludes they will give the new coach time to bring Mays back into the fold. So while it’s safe to say this decommitment isn’t bad news for Kirby Smart and Co., it’s far too early to view Mays as a slam dunk for the ‘Dawgs.

But while we’re dreaming, let’s acknowledge that a UGA offensive line class consisting of Mays, 4 star center Warren Ericson, tackle Owen Condon, 4 star guard Trey Hill out of Houston County, and Salyer would be as good as last year’s class up front. It would also be the best two year haul on the offensive front in the past twenty years. You know, hypothetically speaking. Until later . . .

Go ‘Dawgs!!!