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Tennessee football's Trey Smith blasts NCAA over Cade Mays' ongoing bid for a waiver

Blake Toppmeyer
Knoxville News Sentinel

Trey Smith applauds the way Cade Mays is handling himself as he awaits his NCAA transfer waiver fate.

“He's busting his butt. He's going to practice,” Smith said of his fellow Tennessee offensive lineman. 

Smith contrasted that with his image of the NCAA decision makers who hold Mays’ fate for the 2020 season in their hands.

“The people who are making these decisions are just sitting in a meeting room, just drinking coffee and just looking at paper,” Smith said. “You know, so it’s really asinine, to say the least, man.”

The NCAA denied Mays’ transfer waiver in August.

Tennessee has filed a request that the NCAA reconsider its decision to deny the transfer waiver, and additional information was submitted to the NCAA, Knoxville lawyer Gregory P. Isaacs confirmed to Knox News on Tuesday. Isaacs is representing Mays through the waiver appeal process.

"We're optimistic that we're going to hear something in the near future," Isaacs told Knox News when asked for an update on Mays' status.

It's uncertain when the NCAA will rule on UT's request to reconsider. The NCAA does not comment on athletes' waiver bids and does not offer rationale for its decisions.

If the NCAA does not reconsider its waiver denial, Tennessee can file an appeal.

Tennessee is scheduled to open the season on Sept. 26 at South Carolina.

Mays, a junior, transferred to Tennessee from Georgia in January. If he is granted a transfer waiver, he would become a projected starter for what should be a robust Tennessee offensive line. He's most likely to slot in at right guard or right tackle.

Without a waiver, NCAA transfer rules deem that Mays must sit out this season.

As an intraconference transfer, Mays also requires a waiver from the SEC.

Mays is allowed to practice regardless of whether he lands a waiver.

"This man is coming to work every day, grinding every day, sweating every day, bleeding every day, hitting every day, regardless of what they decide," Smith said. "In those terms, like I said, for people who are just sitting up making decisions in air-conditioned rooms in suits, you make that decision, but he’s coming to work every day regardless.”

The 6-foot-6, 328-pound Mays started 18 games during his two seasons at Georgia, where he took snaps at all five offensive line positions. 

Mays was a five-star recruit coming out of Knoxville Catholic. He committed to Tennessee while Butch Jones was UT's coach before decommitting and signing with the Bulldogs. 

Smith, a Jackson native, was the top-rated recruit in the state of Tennessee in the 2017 recruiting class. Mays was the top recruit in the state in the 2018 recruiting class.

“I’ve always wanted to play with Cade since high school," Smith said. "I remember talking to him at Mr. Football, different things like that and following each other over the years, staying connected. And then finally we get to the point where he came back home, he’s at Tennessee, we’re going to play with each other, and then to see a decision that’s basically trying to shoot down the hard work and discredit this kid who, at the end of the day, he's coming to work every day."

Mays' father, Kevin, is a former first-team All-SEC offensive guard for Tennessee. Mays' younger brother, Cooper, is a freshman offensive lineman for the Vols. 

Mays' father is suing Georgia after his right pinkie finger got caught in a folding chair and was severed during Cade's 2017 recruiting trip to Athens.

Mays is viewed as having high NFL Draft stock. Regardless of whether he plays this season, he would be eligible to declare early for the 2021 NFL Draft.

Blake Toppmeyer covers University of Tennessee football. Email him at blake.toppmeyer@knoxnews.com and follow him on Twitter @btoppmeyer. If you enjoy Blake’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it. Current subscribers can click here to join Blake's subscriber-only text group offering updates and analysis on Vols football.