KNOXVILLE, Tenn.  (WATE)- Tennessee offensive lineman and Knoxville native Cade Mays is starting the new year by beginning a new chapter in his football career.  Mays announced that he is pursuing his NFL dream, declaring for the 2022 draft.  

“Tennessee will always be a part of me and I promise to make you all proud,” Mays wrote in a social media post on Saturday.  

Mays played his first two seasons of college football at the University of Georgia.  The five-star high school recruit played in 11 games as a freshman, recording seven starts. Six of his seven starts came at right guard. One of the top offensive linemen in the nation, Mays played in 75 percent of the Bulldogs offensive plays during conference games.  

As a sophomore, Mays played in 642 offensive snaps starting six games at right guard, two at right tackle, two at left guard, and played left tackle in the Sugar Bowl before transferring to his home state school in 2020.  

Mays joined his brother, Cooper, on the Vols offensive line, fulfilling a childhood dream. His initial NCAA waiver was denied, but later won an appeal that cleared him for immediate eligibility  

“To my brother Cooper, who would’ve thought our dreams would come true. It has been the biggest honor and blessing to be able to share this experience with you. I’ll forever cherish the memories we made together,” Mays wrote.  

Mays started in seven games in 2020 following a rule change that allowed intraconference transfers immediate eligibility. He played 478 offensive snaps for the Vols, starting six games at right guard, one at right tackle.  

Mays versatility helped the Vols this season, playing the majority of Tennessee’s games at right tackle due to the program’s needs.  Mays did not allow a single sack through his first nine games of the season.  

He picked up SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors for the first time of his career after helping the Vols rack up 683 yards of total offense, including 458 rushing yards in the team’s win over Mizzou. 

He picked up the honor again following the Vols win over Kentucky where he played every offensive snap without allowing a single pressure.  

Mays left the South Alabama game early with an injury and did not play in the Music City Bowl game continuing to nurse an ankle injury.