Tennessee head coach Butch Jones continued his raid of Tennessee Volunteer legacies in a big way on Monday when offensive lineman Cade Mays announced his intentions to play for UT via Twitter.
The 6'5", 305-pound lineman is the first commitment in the 2018 class for the Vols. The big, athletic lineman already had offers from some of the nation's elite programs, including Alabama, Florida State, Texas A&M and Clemson, among others.
Though it's hard to get excited about a pledge from a rising sophomore, UT has three huge things in its corner when it comes to keeping Mays' commitment.
First, his father, Kevin, was a standout lineman for the Vols from 1991-94. He began his career on defense before being moved to offensive guard during the coaching transition from Johnny Majors to Phillip Fulmer, where he became an All-SEC performer.
As they say in Tennessee, Mays' blood runs orange, and Jones has made a recruiting habit in his short tenure at UT of securing commitments from some of the nation's top prospects who have UT ties.
Jones already has signed seven Vol legacies in his three classes, a list that includes elite defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie, safeties Todd Kelly Jr. and Evan Berry and linebacker Dillon Bates, among others.
Mays has a long way to go before he's officially a Vol, but that doesn't take away from the magnitude of his pledge. When there's a prospect of his size at his age with the interest from the caliber of schools who are after him, it usually means he's somebody who could become an elite, highly coveted player.
It helped UT that he plays for Knoxville Catholic, a school that recently produced UT lineman Kyler Kerbyson. Also, several UT coaches have sons who played for Catholic, including Jones, defensive coordinator John Jancek and defensive backs coach Willie Martinez.
Sticking with the family theme, Mays told VolQuest.com's Austin Price that the recent birth of his brother, Camp, made him realize he wanted to be close to home as well.
"With my mom just having a baby it made me realize I want to spend time with my family," Mays told Price. "There wasn't another school that I considered that could stand up to what Tennessee can offer. It's that simple."
Though UT's offensive line struggled mightily a season ago, Jones has addressed the needs in a big way during the past two recruiting cycles.
Drew Richmond, a 247Sports Top 100 player and composite 4-star, was the centerpiece of an offensive line class in 2015 that was stellar. Jack Jones, another 4-star tackle prospect, as well as Venzell Boulware, Zach Stewart and Chance Hall rounded out the class.
This year, the Vols already have a commitment from 4-star tackle Ryan Johnson.
Now Mays ensures that UT's offensive line recruiting will continue on the upswing as the Vols get ready to head into a couple of years in 2017 and '18 that could be banner seasons for the recruiting crop of in-state talent.
All recruiting information obtained from 247Sports unless otherwise noted.
Brad Shepard covers SEC football and is the Tennessee lead writer for Bleacher Report. Follow Brad on Twitter @Brad_Shepard.