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Tennessee C Cooper Mays said he could play DT for Vols – if he had to

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Deion Sanders, William “The Refrigerator” Perry, Cooper Mays? 

In modern-day football history, there have only been a few two-way players. That’s not terribly surprising news – playing both offense and defense would be extremely taxing and could most definitely increase a player’s chances of injury. Sanders started on defense but would occasionally play wide receiver. Perry also started on defense but would play fullback from time to time. He even held a record for the heaviest player to ever score a touchdown at 335 pounds.

We know Cooper Mays as a stellar center for the Vols. But… could we see him line up on the opposite side of scrimmage? Probably not – but never say never? 

“Dude, I told everybody this and… I don’t know. Let me just stop. I don’t know.” Mays said with a smile when asked about the possibility on the latest Vol Report. 

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Mays dabbled in defense during his high school years, something he doesn’t think would be possible here at Tennessee. “I can barely do offense with our tempo as it is,” said Mays with a smile

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That’s not true. Mays is expected to be an All-SEC center this season.  

“I only (played defense) in high school because you can get away with not using full effort every play and still do really good,” recounted Mays. “So that’s the difference in college. First of all, our tempo makes you super tired. It doesn’t bode well for playing a long amount of time as far as being on the field for a continuous time.” 

But if Josh Heupel were to tap him on the shoulder one day and ask him to fill in on defense? How does Mays think he would do? 

“I can play defense, I promise you,” Mays said assuredly. “I can go out there and play a couple plays and do okay. I don’t know if I’d have a sack or anything, but I’d be fine. I would fend for myself, you know what I’m saying? I don’t know if I’d be great, but I definitely could do a serviceable and solid job.” 

So, Mays insists he could do it – but how quickly could he switch gears from being a center to a defensive tackle? Oh, give him about a week – after all, it sounds like it’s in his DNA. 

“My dad played,” Mays remembered. “My dad was starting at (defensive) tackle… I think during fall camp during his redshirt sophomore year. And then ended up switching because they had no guards. I think he was the only person that they knew that had played offensive line in high school. So, they switched them from a starting defensive tackle spot to a starting guard spot like a month before the season.” 

Bottom line – don’t expect to see “Cooper Mays, defensive tackle” listed on your program this fall. But, he’s available in a pinch. Coaches take note. 

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