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Jeremy Pruitt reacts to Cade Mays being cleared to play by the SEC

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NCAA Football: Georgia at Tennessee Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

Finally, we’re going to see Cade Mays put on the orange and white. On Wednesday, just as Jeremy Pruitt’s Wednesday wrapped up, the SEC announced that several transfers had been cleared to play, headlined by Mays.

The former Georgia Bulldog transferred to Tennessee following the 2019 season, returning home to play with his little brother Cooper, who was a part of the Vols’ 2020 recruiting class.

Mays’ request for immediate eligibility was initially denied by the NCAA, but was then approved upon appeal. The SEC was the final hurdle to clear.

During Wednesday night’s Vol Calls, Jeremy Pruitt got his first chance to react to the news.

“I’d like to start with Chancellor Plowman,” Pruitt said on Vol Calls. “She really went to bat for Cade and probably helped navigate this as much as anybody, and Coach Fulmer, of course Commissioner Sankey and William King. I just think it’s awesome, not only for Cade, but for everybody else it’s affecting in this pandemic. When you’re around these young men and women every single day, obviously the times are totally different than anything that we’ve ever experienced, and it’s awesome that they’re going to get a chance to do something that they’ve worked so hard to do.”

The NCAA has ruled that eligibility will not count for the 2020 season, creating a unique situation for transferring players. Mays begins at Tennessee as a junior.

This is a battle that has been going on throughout camp, eventually causing Mays to miss the season opener against South Carolina. Now as Tennessee is set to enter their second weekend of the season, Mays is ready to join the starting lineup.

“When I found out, I walked all the way around the Anderson Center about three times trying to find him, and he was up in a film room studying film, so I never found him,” Pruitt said. “I finally got him on the phone. He already knew, but he was excited. I know that just the unknowns for him, he really took a chance by deciding to leave the place that he chose to go to out of high school. I’ve experienced that myself. When you’re sitting there in limbo, there’s a lot of things that go through your mind, and I’m sure that this is absolutely a burden that’s off his chest now.”

The timing of this news couldn’t be better, coming just ten days before Tennessee makes the trip south to Athens.

Pruitt has mentioned the versatility of Mays, saying that could handle either of the five spots on the offensive line. Tennessee ended up starting Jerome Carvin at guard opposite of Trey Smith last weekend, which is probably the likely spot for Mays to land at against Missouri. But it shouldn’t surprise you to see Tennessee try a few different combinations on Saturday, as they did against South Carolina.

Tennessee and Missouri will kickoff at noon ET on the SEC Network.