KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE)- Georgia transfer Cade Mays is suiting up in orange and white for the first time this season after being deemed eligible to play in September. This season not only marks his first season playing for the Vols, but also the first time he’s lining up alongside his younger brother Cooper since high school.
“It’s been an unreal experience,” said Cade.
Cade and Cooper have done “a lot of things growing up together” but playing together at the college level, Cade said, has been a dream of theirs since they were young.
Both Cade and Cooper played on the offensive line for Knoxville Catholic in high school and played together for the 2017 team that won a state title.
“They were great athletes and they were just great kids to be around,” said Catholic offensive line coach Justin Anderson. “They worked hard every day. I knew when it came to game time that they had my back and I had their back and they’d give everything they had.”
Fighting Irish head coach Steve Matthews said while the two were very different, Cade being more vocal and expressive while Cooper was laid back and quiet, the two were alike when it came to game time—playing with toughness and physicality.
“It’s one of those things when you have them you don’t really appreciate it,” said Matthews. “Now that they’re gone, you’re like wow those guys are really good players and I’m proud of both of them.”
Matthews who had a stint in the NFL recognizes the talent it takes to make it to the top and saw that in Cade right away.
“Cade could play in the NFL and I knew that here when we were coaching him,” said the high school head coach. “Just the way he ran and his size– he’s just a freak of athletic nature.”
Matthews recognized Cooper’s talent too, who was a four-star prospect ranked eighth in the state. Despite playing banged up his senior season, he was a part of the line who helped clear the way for 2,360 rushing yards in 2019 for Catholic. A freshman at UT, Cooper has seen game action on reserve.
“They’re [Tennessee coaches] really bragging on Cooper a ton,” said Matthews. “They really like him; like how he plays and practices and the same with Cade.”
In Tennessee’s game against Missouri, their childhood dream became a reality.
“My actual first play I looked over and he was right next to me so that was unbelievable to see that become a reality,” said Cade. “Afterward we talked about it and we’re just both ecstatic we get to be out on the same field at an SEC level and compete it’s just awesome.”
Anderson said it was a blessing to be able to coach Cade and Cooper and see them find success at the next level together.
“They’ve always dreamed about coming true for them and that’s why I can’t wait to watch them on Saturdays I record it if I can’t watch it. Because I care so much about those kids and want to see them be successful.”
The Mays’ legacy playing in the trenches for Tennessee’s offense runs deep, as their father Kevin was an All-SEC guard who played for Tennessee from 1991-94.