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‘It’s really asinine:’ Trey Smith doesn’t mince words on Cade Mays delayed decision

Trey Smith talks team and frustration over Cade Mays situation
UT offensive line mates at Vols practice
UT offensive line mates at Vols practice(Rick Russo)
Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 12:38 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Vol lineman and All-SEC performer Trey Smith met with the media on Tuesday. The senior says he’s excited to have one more opportunity in orange and white.

Despite the situation with the pandemic, Smith said the guys on the team have been working hard and he expects Tennessee to be ready come kickoff at South Carolina September 26.

Among those working hard in practice has been UGA transfer and Knoxville native Cade Mays who was originally denied immediate eligibility by the NCAA.

Tennessee has appealed the case and as of Wednesday, was still awaiting word on whether Mays will be able to join his teammates on the field at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia.

Well, Trey Smith is quite irritated that a decision hasn’t been made already in UT’s favor. Here’s what the All-American had to say regarding his team’s preparations and that situation with Mays:

“At the end of the day, he’s coming to work every day, he’s busting his butt, he’s coming to practice. I mean, the people that are making these decisions are just sitting in a meeting room just drinking coffee and looking at paper so you know, it’s really asinine to say the least, man. We’re talking about a season where eligibility doesn’t even matter and you’re not gonna clear this kid? So, at the day we’re gonna focus on what we can control, man. We’re gonna control the controllables that we can control. And you know, the people eating in meeting rooms and wearing suits walking around all day and don’t wanna clear this kid who is busting his butt, bleeding, sweating, getting hit on the field... Uh you know that’s their choice but at the end of the day he’s working his butt off trying to do something great. That’s how I look at it.”

Here’s what else Trey had to tell the media on various topics as the season opener against the Gamecocks rapidly approaches:

On what it’s been like going to practice despite the lack of numbers…

“Every time in football you might have challenges when people go down for injury or different things, but what Coach Pruitt, Coach Friend, and all of our coaches teach is next man up mentality. So when that opportunity presents itself it’s another opportunity for someone to prove themselves on the field. It’s always hard when you don’t have a lot of numbers, but at the end of the day, it’s football. We got to get work done and prepare for South Carolina, and that is not going to stop us from our goals.”

On what this camp has been like compared to years past, and what the past 4-5 months have been like in regard to making a decision to play or not…

“This has probably been the weirdest camp I have ever been a part of, traditionally speaking. Camp has been an everyday thing, being able to do it how we’re doing it now and more spaced out with the season getting pushed back, I’d say it’s helped out a lot as far as development and being able to watch film and get better at certain things. In terms of myself, I came back to Tennessee for a reason, to prove myself, to prove that I can play at a high level consistently, so it was not really a hard decision.”

On what he has seen from the offensive line and younger guys on the offensive line in camp…

“We have a really great offensive room dynamic right now. A lot of players that want to get better, a lot of players that want to be great, a lot of players that want to dominate and push the ball in the SEC and that’s what we’re going to have to do at the end of the day. In terms of younger guys, (Javontez) Spraggins definitely left an impression on me. He has a love for the game that a lot of the time younger players have when they first get to college, a certain passion of wanting to be great and doing the right things and trying to be consistent. He has a lot of things to learn, but as a freshman, who doesn’t at that point? But Spraggins reminds me of someone who taught me everything I know in Jashon Robertson in terms of how he plays the game and presents himself on a daily basis, and I’ll be honest the future is very bright for him if he stays on that path.”

On what his confidence level is on how the team can perform against South Carolina, and how important is has been for him to be a driving force and leader for the team on and off the field…

“I’m very confident in this team, but once again we still have a lot of work to do. I still have work to do myself messing up on some simple stuff that’s unacceptable at this level. But in terms of just getting ready for South Carolina, we’ll be there and ready to play regardless of who we play. For me, just leading off the field, anything I can do to positively impact the community, I won’t hesitate to do it and it’s really important for me to do those type of things as well.”

On if he thinks college football players should be allowed to be on the field during the National Anthem in regard to recent protests, etc. …

“Quite frankly you said it best, we are not allowed on the field for the anthem, so there’s not much we can do about it so that’s pretty much it for that.”

On if it has been hard to build a chemistry with the offensive line with so many players out, and how many people he consulted about the impact COVID-19 would have on him personally…

“With the offensive line, in terms of continuity, I don’t think there’s been a time since I have been here that there has been the same offensive that has played consistently with each other for weeks or months. So, in terms of that it’s just the matter of fact of doing what the coach tells you what to do consistently, doing your job consistently and being ready to play, because quite frankly with COVID-19 and the issues that come from it, a lot of people are going to play positions that they have never played before, so continuity is definitely going to be an issue, but it’s not only going to be an issue here, it is going to be an issue across the country due to this virus. So, once again it is going to come down to us doing well and completing what the coaches tell us to. In terms of me and my health personally, there are actual standards of how people are affected and I’m not any different. I have read up on COVID-19 and how it could cause blood clots, so if a person gets COVID-19 they are at a higher risk of blood clots than I am.”

On how much easier it has been playing for the same offensive coordinator for two consecutive years…

“I think it’s made a huge difference. I was thinking about certain things like after the year on how certain things play out, and just thinking about not having to think in depth when I’m actually playing and just play naturally and do things without fully thinking it out, it sounds weird, but it’s first time I’ve had that happen since high school. My relationship with Coach (Jim) Chaney is really good, I trust him. I understand the plays and what he is trying to accomplish, and as a team and unit, it’s just going to help us even more having that consistency, especially for Jarrett (Guarantano) having that consistent offense he can work on and develop. It’s just going to be great for our unit and team, and I am very excited about what we are doing and where we are headed.”

On how much more he has gotten to practice compared to last year, and if the process with Cade Mays has been frustrating and his stance on it…

“In terms of me being able to practice, I have gotten to practice a lot more this year than last year. Obviously, I think last year I only practiced two times the entire year in full pad practice, and one actually counted for the bowl game in Jacksonville, so I’ve been able to practice a lot more full pads, so I’m a lot further than I was this time last year in terms of my skills and development. I am very thankful, and I thank God for that. In terms of Cade, I have always wanted to play with Cade since high school, following each other over the years and staying connected. Then finally we get to the point where he comes back home and we thought we were going to get to play with each other, and then seeing a decision that is basically trying to shoot down the hard work and discredit this kid, who, at the end of the day I mean he’s coming to work every day and he’s busting his butt and he’s going to practice. The people making this decision are just sitting in the meeting room just drinking coffee and looking at the paper. So, it is really asinine to say the least, and we are talking about a season where eligibility doesn’t even matter and you are not going to clear this kid? So, at the end of the day we can only focus on what we can focus on and control what we control. The people eating and drinking in meeting rooms that don’t want to clear this kid who is busting his butt, sweating, bleeding and getting hit on the field consistently, then that’s their choice, but do right by a kid who is trying to do right and bust his butt every day. That is how I look at it.”

On how it has been to show how much he can be leader for this team and keep guys in line…

“It’s a daily challenge, just being honest. There’s so many factors that can come into play with COVID-19, it’s a little overwhelming when I think about it. Coach Pruitt always tells us the best way to protect yourself is wear your mask. If you wear your mask the chances of you getting COVID-19 decrease exponentially. On top of that, as players we have to do our own job as well, staying in a bubble and try to create our own population and stay away as much as possible. We have a goal, which Is to play this season and at the end of the day I have to do a better job policing it. But we just have to do a better job, and it is teamwork at the end of the day, as all of us players to make sure we don’t put anyone else’s health in jeopardy.”

On if it feels like game week and how the team will handle the remaining unknowns…

“Mentally, nothing feels like reality anymore. I was playing Xbox last night with my friends and I say, ‘the Titans are playing.’ It’s weird. We had NFL football for the first time in a long time. Obviously, college football played. I don’t think it’s ever going to feel normal until it’s gameday in the hotel eating my pregame meal and I’m ready to go out there. Even then, without fans, it still might not feel normal. At the end of the day, like I said earlier, control the controllables. We have no control over that, unless it’s protecting ourselves and not putting our team in jeopardy, just making sure we’re healthy. If they decide to play the season, we’ll be ready to play. If they decide it’s not safe and we can’t play this season, then we’ll accept that and go right back to work because that’s what we can control. At the end of the day, we’ve got to control our effort, our attitude and how we come out and how we prepare every day. If we do play, we’re going to be ready.”

On what things he is focusing on and trying to improve on…

“There’s a lot. For me, it’s pad level, leverage, angles of departure, coming out of my stance. I have a bad habit of doing certain things like that. Being under control of my body – I say that a lot of times in pass protection, I see myself over-extending and lunging too much. Really, there’s a lot of things that are mostly body control and body movements, but quite frankly when this is the only time you’re going against a live body at full speed, you might get sloppy. You might get tired. You might have issues and you haven’t felt that before. Quite frankly, I’m knocking off the rust every time I step out on the field and I’m feeling more confident every time I step out on the field. I’ll be honest, it’s a hard process because it’s something I haven’t done in two years if you think about the amount of practice I’ve been doing.”

On how he and the rest of the team do what they need to do and not take any chances amidst COVID-19…

“That’s a hard thing because at the end of the day, I’m not anyone’s dad or parent. I’m not around them 24-7, providing for them. I have to have enough faith and I have to trust them enough that they’ll do the right things. In terms of if we see you doing the wrong things, it’s going to get addressed as a team. If you keep doing the wrong things, it’s going to get addressed at the next level. It all falls into trust. At the end of the day, I’m just not around them 24/7. I think I said it earlier, there’s so many variables with COVID-19, with how you can contract it, how you can get it and how you can put yourself in jeopardy. It’s too hard to micromanage, too hard to follow. I think, once again, we’ve got to rely on what Coach Pruitt’s told us: wear your mask, be safe and don’t put yourself in situations that would jeopardize yourself or this team.”

On if he has seen Cade Mays be affected by not knowing if he will be eligible this season…

“No. Cade’s a tough dude. In our mentality, why let that affect how he comes every day and how he works. Regardless of what they decide, 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. For people who are just sitting up, making decisions in air-conditioned rooms and suits, you make that decision, but he’s coming to work every day, regardless.”

On what it has been like working next to Jahmir Johnson on the offensive line…

“Philly (Jahmir Johnson) is my guy. Philly is a dog. In terms of a guy that you want to go to war with, Philly’s up there. I played with him a lot last year. I even played with him a lot in 2018. We actually had our roles reversed. I was the tackle and he was the guard. The thing about Jahmir Johnson that you’re going to get every time is intensity and violence. I love that. Anytime I’m going to hold somebody up, I know he’s about two steps behind me about to knock him out. I love playing with that sort of guy, that physical guy who wants to punish people right beside you, who has the same mental makeup that you have. (Jahmir) has a very bright future. We’re talking about an extremely athletic guy in terms of what he can do at the tackle position. It’s fun to watch him, honestly. It’s fun to just see what he puts on tape every day.”

On if the offensive line room has adopted his mentality and if he watched any specific NFL offensive linemen this week…

“In terms of the mental makeup of this line, I think it’s one of the first lines other than 2017, because we were trying to get after it to, that I’ve seen a large amount of guys really try to put someone on their back and try to do it consistently. It’s awesome to see. It’s awesome to see how Coach (Will) Friend has coached to this point and see how his coaching techniques are starting to come through. We’re starting to realize the purposes and schemes of these plays as well. This line has a great potential because of our makeup. Mentally we have a lot of guys that are trying to get after it every play. In terms of watching folks this Sunday, I wasn’t able to actually watch a game, because at my apartment I don’t have my cable set up yet, so shame on me, but I was watching a lot of younger guys that were in the draft class last year. I know I paid attention to Andrew Thomas. I saw Trent Williams kill a guy, which is on par for him. I saw Jadeveon Clowney get after it a little bit last night, but in terms of that, I was watching younger offensive tackles and guard players that started for the first year.”

On if it’s been hard for him to watch football while Tennessee’s season hasn’t begun yet…

“No. It really hasn’t been that bad for me. I was just intrigued to see what they looked like, especially at the college level. I thought the NFL looked really, really good. Sometimes I don’t think they even skipped a beat. You wouldn’t even tell there was a pandemic. I really didn’t feel any type of way. I just know my time is coming on both levels, regardless. Whenever my time comes, I just need to be ready so that I can perform my best.”

On what he has seen out of QB Jarrett Guarantano this offseason…

“I would definitely just say control. JG has a good control of this offseason. It’s probably the first time that we’ve been in an offensive system that’s been consistent for two years. Naturally, there’s going to be growth right there. In terms of that, I would say leadership. He’s been able to take command a lot of times. He has a really good, firm grasp of the offense. So, right now, the way things are working out, Jarrett’s playing very well. He’s prepared for the season and I’m really excited for his future because it’s nothing but bright.”

Copyright 2020 WVLT. All rights reserved.

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