ATHENS Cade Mays hasn't locked down a starting spot, but he might be the most valuable member of Georgia's celebrated offensive line.
Mays' ability to play center, guard and tackle without much dropoff from any of the other players gives the Bulldogs tremendous flexibility.
It was clear on Saturday that Georgia coach Kirby Smart was more pleased with the sophomore than other members of the so-called "Great Wall" after the scrimmage.
Mays was splitting the first-team work with Big Ben Cleveland at right guard in a scrimmage where the ones didn't measure up to Smart's championship standards.
"I can tell you that the standard to me is not that you're going to go out there against the two defense and not score on 50 percent or 60 percent of your possessions," Smart said, pointing out Jake Fromm and the first team's lack of proficiency.
"You've got to go convert and score, but that's not all on (the offensive line), that's on the entire unit as a whole to execute."
Smart said Mays and Cleveland "rolled" with the ones, indicating that has been happening throughout fall camp, adding that "Cade rotated at center, too."
Mays was an FWAA Freshman All-American as a true freshman out of Knoxville, flipping to Georgia from his hometown Vols when former coach Butch Jones came under fire during the 2017 season.
The Bulldogs' offensive line is considered the best in the nation entering the season, and the versatility Mays brings is part of the reason why.
"I like the way he plays more than any of those other guys in that entire group," ESPN analyst and former Auburn offensive lineman Cole Cubelic said.
"Cade is a finisher, he has that nasty you love to see and plays the game the way it's supposed to be played," he said. "You routinely see him 10 or 20 yards downfield looking for contact on each play."
Offensive line coach Sam Pittman and Smart have taken note, and they want Mays ready to plug and play at any spot.
"He's gonna do some tackle, he's done some tackle in practice," Smart said. "We wanted the meat and potatoes to be guard and center, and then after the first scrimmage, we're gonna say, okay, he can get some tackle but he's still in a battle for that guard spot.' "
Smart said he won't let Mays' versatility work against him as he competes for a starting spot., but his athleticism and flexibility is invaluable to the team's championship hopes.
" He's an athlete but we can't let that be a detriment to him, because if he can be in the starting five, he needs to be in the starting five," Smart said. "But his value also is that can snap and he's an athletic center. If you can play center, left tackle, and guard, you're pretty talented and you're bright.
"He's really tough, man. He plays hard. He plays tough and physical. He's a bright spot for us but he's in a battle for a spot."
Georgia football Scrimmage One
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