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Vols head coach Butch Jones is out at Tennessee. Here’s a look back at his time with the team.
Wochit

The cornerstone of Tennessee’s 2018 football recruiting class removed himself from the foundation last week, no doubt leaving a huge void in his wake.

Knoxville Catholic offensive lineman Cade Mays, a 6-foot-6, 320-pound Army All-American and a Rivals five-star prospect, decommitted from Tennessee on Nov. 7 via a prepared statement on Twitter.

“This decision has been one of the hardest decisions I have made in my life,” Mays wrote.

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Still, it all but brought an end to weeks of speculation that he had already privately done so, and he now has official recruiting visits set up for Ohio State, Clemson, Notre Dame, Georgia and Tennessee, per 247Sports.com. Mays had been verbally committed to Tennessee since July 2015.

While Tennessee will try its best to make a late sales pitch to reel him back since the Vols offensive line desperately needs his services, the coaching staff might be better served trying to hold on to Alontae Taylor of Coffee County High (Manchester, Tenn.).

The last three years, I have written preseason Mr. Football predictions for a statewide prep sports website. In doing so, I delve deeply into many of the top prospects’ recruiting films.

Taylor had the most electrifying highlights of anyone I watched on Hudl.com for my 2017 predictions. Let me also say, I can’t critique an offensive lineman’s play. I don’t know that position. But I can watch Taylor and know he’s an unreal talent.

Check out what he did this season in 10 games: 24 of 46 passing for 391 yards and three touchdowns; 141 carries for 1,409 yards and 21 touchdowns; and 11 catches, 256 yards and a touchdown. He also had an 88-yard kickoff return score.

The 6-1 athlete and Under Armour All-American is listed as a “hard commit” to Tennessee on 247sports but Georgia, Notre Dame, Alabama and Ohio State have become serious players in his recruitment of late.

“I know everyone is talking about the whole hot seat with Coach [Butch] Jones, and I’m just unsure right now who is going to be on the coaching staff at Tennessee when I’m there,” Taylor told Rivals.com. “That’s why I’m staying committed, but I have to look at my options just in case Coach Jones isn’t there.”

More: Tennessee football sees flurry of decommitments after Vols coach Butch Jones fired

Jones was, indeed, fired Sunday as this column was going to press. For the new staff, the top priority will be to salvage the recruiting class. 

And the Vols’ new head coach better be a great closer. Digging deeper beyond Taylor’s public comments, he has nothing in his Twitter profile or bio that indicates he is a Tennessee commitment as most high school players typically do once committed. 

What’s more, he has a picture of himself pinned to his Twitter profile kneeling in a Fighting Irish uniform with the famed Notre Dame mural known as “Touchdown Jesus” in the background.

That can’t be good for Tennessee or its recruiting class.

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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

More: Cade Mays decommits from Tennessee Vols

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