KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Recruiting is a relationship game, and Tennessee got burned in that game on Tuesday.
The Vols lost a commitment from Cade Mays, which comes as a massive blow to the Class of 2018. The commitment from the 5-star tackle had lasted more than two years.
Reporters asked coach Butch Jones at his news conference Wednesday about the difficulty of keeping prospects committed over time. Jones can’t comment on specific recruits but said the dynamics are always changing.
“I think recruiting, in general, is a great challenge,” Jones said. “It is forged by relationships over time. It is in flux, every minute, hour and day in the world that we live. So, you have to rely on your relationships. You have to rely on the good things that are going on. Which, we have a ton of good things going on in the program.”
A challenge Jones has faced this season on the recruiting trail is convincing recruits to look forward. That makes sense, considering Tennessee has lost all five SEC games it has played this season.
Jones has tried to convince the Class of 2018 that the Vols are still building to become a top-level program.
“A lot of times as a young man, you don’t look at the immediate. You look at the near future,” he said. “You say, ‘OK, the program’s here. When I have my opportunity over the next four or five years, where do I see the program going?’ Each individual has a different set of circumstances that they are looking for.”
Mays rates as a 5-star prospect, much like Tennessee freshman offensive lineman Trey Smith was a season ago. Smith, from Jackson, Tenn., chose to attend Tennessee because he wanted a challenge and didn’t shy away.
“You look at Trey Smith, he wanted the challenge of helping us get Tennessee football to a very high level. He wanted that challenge. Each individual is different,” Jones said. “It is forged on relationships over time. It is ongoing and ever developing. It’s every program, not just Tennessee. It’s the world of recruiting.”
There is no spinning how much the Mays de-commitment hurts the Vols’ current state of recruiting. He plans to take advantage of the early-signing period beginning on Dec. 20. There is still time to rebuild the relationship, but the clock is ticking.