UGA’s Cade Mays learning how to be ‘the guy’ heading into 2019 season
Cade Mays’ versatility dates back to his youth football days.
Mays’ father Kevin coached his teams, and he knew early that his son could pave the way for big gains. When the team wanted to run left, Mays was put on the left side of the line. A run to the right, and Mays shifted to the other side.
Now, the sophomore offensive lineman is using that versatility to his advantage as he fights for playing time on one of America’s most talented offensive lines.
Mays has worked at guard, tackle and center so far in fall camp. Tuesday saw him working at first team right guard during the media viewing period, with junior Ben Cleveland running second team.
He has also spent time working behind starting center Trey Hill, with head coach Kirby Smart saying after the team’s first scrimmage of the fall on Aug. 10 that Mays will also see time at left tackle.
“If you can play center, left tackle, and guard, you’re pretty talented and you’re bright,” Smart said. “He’s really tough, man. He plays hard. He plays tough and physical.”
Working multiple spots at Georgia is nothing new for Mays. Last season, he replaced Andrew Thomas at left tackle when Thomas sprained his ankle against South Carolina.
Mays was wearing No. 42 against the Gamecocks as a hybrid tight end/extra blocker in short yardage situations. Then, he heard Smart yelling his name.
“They give me this big jersey to put on and I put it on, I had to run out there and tell the referee that I was checked in and I was wearing the new jersey,” Mays said. “It was all just kind of a blur, but it was a great experience for me.”
Mays started the next game against Middle Tennessee State in place of Thomas.Then, after Cleveland fractured his left fibula against Missouri, Mays made six consecutive starts at right guard before injuring his shoulder.
Since last season, center has been added to Mays’ robust plate of positions. It’s a new spot, but the first-time collegiate center is taking it in stride.
“It’s helped me learn the offense better knowing what everybody’s doing,” Mays said. “I don’t think it’s slowed me down. I think it’s definitely picked my game up and elevated it to a new level.”
Nobody knows as of now exactly what the 2019 season has in store for Mays. He could begin the season Aug. 31 at Vanderbilt as the starting right guard, or he could continue to be a jack of all trades that can fill in at any spot on the line as needed.
But above all else, Mays wants one word associated with him.
“You want to be looked at as dependable,” Mays said. “That’s a big word for somebody to use about me is just saying that I’m dependable. I can do my job anywhere you want to put me.”