Five-star prospect Cade Mays’ decision to decommit from Tennessee lays at the feet of one man.
Currie’s decision to not fire coach Butch Jones hasn’t given UT’s top former commitment – nor any other – any reason to be optimistic about the Vols’ future.
Tennessee has lost plenty of commitments as Jones’ team has flopped on the field, but Mays is by far the biggest. Mays was the highest-rated prospect the Vols had committed, was a legacy (his father played at UT) and plays high school football at Knoxville Catholic, just a short drive from Neyland Stadium. Ouch.
So while Currie stood by Jones, Clemson, Georgia, Notre Dame and Ohio State kept the heat on Mays. Clemson and Georgia are thought to be the main players to land Mays.
Currie could have handled things far differently. Assuming Jones will be fired – and most believe that will be the case – he could have been relieved of his duties earlier this season. Then, assistants and maybe even Currie could have reached out to Mays and other commitments and assured them that the future of the program will be in better hands with the next coach. That didn’t happen.
Now, before you decide it’s time to start searching for Currie’s replacement, remember this: His job is to build the best athletic program possible, not salvage a football recruiting class nor one elite commitment.
But Mays’ decommitment carries some serious weight and sends a strong message. Why would an out-of-state prospect with no ties to UT consider the Vols after Mays has decommitted despite all of his ties to the school?
If/when the Vols replace Jones, the next coach will have very time to try to re-convince Mays that UT is the place for him. Mays has said he wants to sign December 20, the first day of the new early signing period for football. If Currie replaces Jones, the Vols’ new coach won’t be in place until early December. The clock will be ticking fast.
Mays’ final decision won’t determine Currie’s fate nor even if his decision to be patient is the right one. No one player is worth determining the direction of a football program. But if the Vols do indeed lose Mays, one man carries most of the blame – and he’s not even a football coach.
(You can follow Dave Hooker on Twitter @TheDaveHooker)
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