6’6″ 325 pounds; Hometown: Knoxville, Tenn.
It’s safe to say Tennessee football took a major hit on the interior of the offensive line. Trey Smith and Brandon Kennedy graduate early, and Riley Locklear has since been forced to retire due to medical issues. As a result, known returning starters for the Vols would immediately be players they can’t afford to lose no matter what.
However, between Cade Mays and Jerome Carvin, Mays makes the list. The son of UT offensive lineman Kevin Mays from the early 1990s and graduate of Knox County’s Knoxville Catholic High School struggled with consistency a bit last year as it took him a while to get his eligibility waiver upon his transfer from the Georgia Bulldogs.
This year, though, it’s hard to see Mays not having a superstar year. When fully healthy and in a normal year, he has proven he can be elite at any position. He’ll likely stick at right guard this year, but that versatility combined with his talent is what puts him on here.
The only reason we don’t have Mays higher on the list is because of more depth, to be fair, on the interior. We already named Carvin. He has plenty of experience playing inside, and the Vols have other rising stars there. Mays is crucial more because of his talent.