CLOSE

How is UT commit Cade Mays spending his fall break? Fishing in the early morning, then football practice, followed by deer hunting.
Calvin Mattheis/USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee

KNOXVILLE – Cade Mays pulls four fishing rods from the back of his truck and gets momentarily tangled in his compound bow.

That’s how the Tennessee commit and Catholic lineman is spending his fall break: fishing in the early morning, then football practice, followed by deer hunting.

“I do everything,” he says with a verbal shrug. Mays’ favorite is duck hunting (he and his dad have a trip to Saskatchewan next week) but he’ll hunt whatever is in season and hit up the area’s ponds for some bass fishing.

Mays assembles his rods, leaves the tackle box in his truck and heads down a ridge, through the overgrown weeds to a small opening in the fence separating a private parking lot with an undisclosed golf course (a fisherman never gives away his spots).

He watches a golf cart approaching, “Oh no, are they going to kick us out before I even get to fish?” But the cart turns as the workers continue maintenance on the course.

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

There’s a small hint of pride in his voice as Mays says he’s been kicked off this Knoxville golf course about eight times. Usually, the employees are friendly and tell him they don’t care if he comes back when there are fewer golfers. There are none on this wet morning and no one questions his presence.

On any given day, Mays would fish and hunt over playing football, and that’s saying something because football certainly isn’t a chore. He’s never missed a practice or optional weight session to fish (though showing up to practice with mud up to his knees surprised no one), but he has skipped out on class a couple of times.

The five-star recruit would like to play five or six years in the NFL and then start a hunting TV show. He’s an 18-year-old looking forward to retirement.

More: Vols commitments Cade Mays, Ollie Lane lead Knoxville Catholic, Gibbs offensive lines

More: Tennessee football commitment Cade Mays of Catholic gets U.S. Army All-American jersey

Mays will fish by himself, but often brings a friend – six or seven Catholic teammates and most of the UT commits have been with him. Mays declined to comment on the strength of his commitment in the face of UT’s poor season.

Fishing is peaceful, but not relaxing.

Mays gets a decent-sized bass on the line but it jumps out of the water and gets away. Mays calls out in frustration, starts reeling the line back in, and realizes the fish broke the line and got away with a good lure.

“But I have 65-pound line on here,” he says mostly to himself as he stares at the rod for a second and then tosses it aside. “That’s why you always bring a backup.” He has seven rods, and brought four.

He periodically looks over at the corner and bemoans this one that got away. Mays once threw his rod in a pond when a fish got away. He had to jump in and swim after it.

It’s not uncommon not to catch anything and Mays usually doesn’t mind (a true fisherman is in for the fishing, not the fish), but today he wants one. He comments on the higher-than-expected water and different lures that might have done better.

Mays caught his personal best in this pond: an 8.94-pound bass. He wonders if it may have been the same fish.