Tennessee has officially lost its top prospect for the 2018 national recruiting cycle.
Five-star offensive lineman Cade Mays, a Knoxville native, announced his decommitment via Twitter on Tuesday morning.
“I wanted to take this time and release a statement and give an inside look to my thoughts about my recruitment. This decision has been one of the hardest decisions I have made in my life. I serve a loving God, and I am confident he will lead me down the right path. My family is my backbone and without them I would not be in the position I am in today. I would like to thank Coach Jones, Coach Wells, and the rest of the UT staff for everything they have done for me in the past 2 years. Many people I have come in contact with at the University of Tennessee have had a tremendous impact on my life. After many talks with God and my family, I have decided to decommit from The University of Tennessee. Thank you to everyone who has been with me every step of the way through this process.
Last month, Mays, who committed to the Vols two years ago, announced that he reopened his recruitment and mentioned last week that he was planning to take official visits to Ohio State, Clemson, Tennessee, Notre Dame and Georgia, before making an official announcement on Dec. 20.
Mays ranks as the top-ranked player from the state of Tennessee, No. 2 offensive lineman and No. 15 overall prospect, according to the 247Sports Composite. Despite being the son of a former Volunteer standout, Kevin Mays, and living minutes away from UT’s campus, the five-star lineman says he hasn’t been pressured to keep his commitment to the Vols.
“I pray about it every night and every day,” Mays told 247Sports. “God’s in control of my future, and my parents have done a great job instilling that in me, and my parents support me. My family supports me. And, outside of that, I’m not really worried about who else supports me.
“I mean, obviously my friends are going to support me, but my family supporting me is everything, because fans are going to jump on the bandwagon when I’m there and stuff. But they’re not the ones that have to live with my decision.
“God’s in control of my future. My family supports my future.”
Tennessee has struggled during head coach Butch Jones’ fifth season, which includes a 3-5 overall record and going winless in five conference games. Mays said it’s “been very disappointing” to see the Vols struggling, but is still optimistic for a turnaround.
“It’s just been disappointing this whole year,” said Mays, who’s ranked the No. 15 overall prospect and No. 2 offensive tackle in the 247Sports Composite for the 2018 class. “But, I mean, the season’s not over. I believe in what (offensive line) coach (Walt) Wells is doing, and hopefully they can turn things around on this last stretch.”
On Tuesday, SB Nation reported that Jones still has some job security left and is being given a chance to win out in order to keep the Vols’ recruiting class intact through December’s early signing period.
“With Week 10’s win over Southern Miss, Butch Jones’ job security is technically alive, albeit on life support. The message inside the program is that UT needs to win out and keep its recruiting class intact through December’s early signing period.”
Tennessee has three games remaining against Missouri, LSU and Vanderbilt. Presumably, if Jones won all three, he would keep his job, according to the report.
However, coaches and agents are reportedly treating Tennessee as if it’s an inevitable open job, according to the website.
“At other schools, coaches and agents are treating Tennessee like an open job. Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen is the most frequently discussed name (that isn’t Jon Gruden). Multiple coaching sources confirm Mullen would “fit” with new athletic director John Currie.”
Mays committed to Tennessee back in July of 2015. He was by far Tennessee’s highest rated commitment of the 2018 recruiting class.