The Shifting and Sliding of Cade Mays

August 10, 2019
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ATHENS - Kirby Smart’s message seemed clear.

 

If you are a top-five player along the offensive line, you will be starting. 

 

Nice, simple and straight-forward. As it stands, four of those top-five have been cemented: Andrew Thomas, Solomon Kindley, Trey Hill and Isaiah Wilson. Left tackle, left guard, center and right tackle, respectively. 

 

The lone spot remaining—right guard—is left for Ben Cleveland and Cade Mays to duke it out over. Through fall camp, it’s been a steady rotation between the two when it comes to taking first-team reps. 

 

But the competition is skewed, at least slightly. Cleveland spends almost if not all of his time cemented at right guard. Mays, on the other hand, is not bound to a single position or side of the offensive line. He’s spent a lot of time at right guard while also working a good bit snapping balls at center as well. Mays showed the ability to play either tackle spot last season, he’s just waiting on the opportunity to show it again. 

 

“He's gonna do some tackle,” Smart said. “We wanted the meat and potatoes to be guard and center. And then after the first scrimmage, we're going to say ‘okay, he can get some tackle.’” 

 

Versatility is a quality Smart frequently praises, and one that he rarely passes up on.

 

“If you can play center, left tackle and guard, you know you’re pretty talented,” Smart said. “He’s a bright spot for us.”

 

Smart maintains that his first focus with Mays is to let him compete for the starting right guard spot. Smart doesn’t want Mays’ multifaceted skillset to “be a detriment to him” in the middle of a position battle. 

 

But when you look at years past, Smart has shown a tendency to develop a sixth-man along that offensive line. In the wake of almost inevitable injury, Smart loves to have that immediate plug.

 

In 2017, it was Dyshon Sims bouncing around at both tackle and guard spots. Last year, Mays and Hill split the duties, Mays playing at both guard and tackle positions while Hill played at guard and center. 

 

Now, it looks like Mays may exclusively take that role. At least every indication of the fall points to it so far. Cleveland is more-than-capable right guard. Hell, he’s the incumbent starter from last season. 

The possibility of Mays starting at right guard is more than alive, but a five-position lineman is almost unheard of, and something that Smart will have a hard time passing up on.

Tags: Cade Mays
 
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