KNOXVILLE — Tennessee’s 2018 recruiting class took a hit when legacy 5-star prospect Cade Mays decommitted this week.

Mays, a local offensive lineman (Knoxville Catholic), committed to Tennessee on July 13, 2015 and was a ring leader in trying to recruit more talent to the Vols’ 2018 class.

But after the Vols’ 4-5 start this season, Mays has opened up his options and spurned — at least temporarily — the school where his father Kevin played from 1991-1994.

The 6-6, 318-pound offensive tackle visited Clemson on Oct. 28 and Georgia on Nov. 8, and he has visits scheduled to Ohio State (Nov. 11), Clemson (Nov. 18), Tennessee (Nov. 25), Notre Dame (Dec. 8) and Georgia (Dec. 15).

He still could very well be in the mix for Tennessee if athletic director John Currie makes a head coaching change and brings in a replacement whom Mays thinks can compete for championships going forward.

The Vols’ 2018 recruiting class fell to No. 13 overall (247Sports) after Mays’ decision. The Vols still have talent coming in if they can keep the rest of their recruits committed through Dec. 20, when high school players can now sign early.

Mays is the fourth prospect to decommit from UT this season. His decision leaves the Vols without a 5-star player in the class.

Here are the UT 4-star commits for 2018:

  • DE Greg Emerson, Jackson, Tenn.
  • WR Alontae Taylor, Manchester, Tenn.
  • QB Adrian Martinez, Fresno, Calif.
  • DT D’Andre Litaker, Murfreesboro, Tenn.
  • DT Brant Lawless, Murfreesboro, Tenn.
  • S Trey Dean, Hampton, Tenn.
  • CB Jaycee Horn, Alpharetta, Ga.

The question now: Can Butch Jones (or a new coach) keep them in the class?

In-state defensive end Greg Emerson updated his location status when Tennessee played host to Southern Miss for homecoming. Emerson appeared still well connected with Tennessee. He has not taken any visits to other schools since his July commitment and appears to be signing with Tennessee next month.

Alontae Taylor is still committed, as he has been since June 2016, but visited Notre Dame on Oct. 28 and received an offer from Alabama on Nov. 3. Taylor will be one to keep an eye on from now until Dec. 20.

https://twitter.com/TaeTaylor6/status/927711970807238656

Quarterback Adrian Martinez tells Saturday Down South that he will be “enrolling early” and will be “ready to participate in (spring) practices.” The Vols should not have to worry about his commitment.

Defensive tackle D’Andre Litaker appears to be all-in for Tennessee, with his last visit to another school coming back in March when he made unofficial visits to Louisville, South Carolina and Alabama.

Defensive tackle Brant Lawless has been committed to the Vols since May and has not visited any other schools.

Trey Dean, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound safety from Hampton, Ga.,  committed on Aug. 2. He has not taken any other visits and appears to be staying with the Volunteers.

https://twitter.com/jayceehorn_10/status/914879585749209089

Corner back Jaycee Horn, son of NFL star Joe Horn, is still standing behind his Aug. 24 commitment. Horn has taken visits to Clemson on Sept. 9, South Carolina on Sept. 16 and Oct. 28, Georgia on Sept. 23 and Tennessee on Sept. 30. Clemson offered Horn on Oct. 2 and it will be interesting to see how the Alpharetta, Ga., prospect’s commitment to Tennessee plays out.

On the heels of Mays’ decommitment, it appears at the very least Tennessee should be able to still sign five 4-star players in the 2018 class.