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Tennessee C Cooper Mays becoming a local Vol celebrity via NIL

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Being a talented college football player surely has its benefits, especially now in the era of NIL. Advertisements, endorsements and speaking opportunities are all possible if the aptitude and charisma are there. 

But, putting yourself out there has its own price and there are always drawbacks to being in the public eye. On this week’s Vol Report, we ask Knoxville native Cooper Mays about life in the limelight, off the field. 

If you’re reading this, you know who Cooper Mays is. You would probably recognise him on the street, no pads or helmet masking his appearance. If you live in Knoxville, you may have seen his recent ad for Aurora Pools and Spas encouraging customers to “reCOOPERate” in one of their saunas. Soon you’ll be able to BE Cooper Mays, at least in the NCAA College Football 25 video game. Mays was also just announced as one of the Vols’ representatives at SEC Media Days next week in Dallas. Football season hasn’t even begun and Mays is seemingly everywhere. 

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When we caught up with Mays this week, he was enjoying some much-earned rest on a family vacation in Florida. Mays was also enjoying the anonymity he usually receives when he’s not in East Tennessee. “Honestly, I’m kind of at the size where people don’t notice me as much, so it’s not too bad for me,” Mays said. “Usually, a couple people find me during my little vacations, but nobody’s done it this time. I don’t know if where I am there’s a lot of Tennessee fans, so it’s been nice.” 

Being one of the more familiar “faces” of not just Tennessee Football, but the SEC as well, certainly makes life interesting for a typically reserved person like Mays. However, he knows it’s all part of the job. “Honestly, it’s not in my disposition… I don’t really like being out there a lot,” Mays admitted. “I kind of like keeping to myself. But you’ll never make money like you will… just to show up and say a few lines and talk to a few people… nobody’s ever going to want you to do that for money again.  

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“So, I think it would be pretty… I don’t want to say dumb, but you’re dumb to not take advantage of your opportunities to make money in this environment.” 

As mentioned, Mays will be a player in NCAA College Football 25, set to be released July 19th. EA Sports ranked the top 25 offenses in their game, and Tennessee did not make the cut. Does that mean anything to Mays? Should it mean anything? “I’ll play their game and I’m in their game,” Mays said. “But, they’re not a reflection of what I think. I don’t really know what they’re thinking.” 

The Vols’ offense didn’t crack the top 25 in a video game. It’s all just fuel for the fire for when the real football action begins. “I’ve always been under hyped; I will say that,” Mays acknowledged. “So, yeah. It’s an opportunity to prove something. A little chip on your shoulder, you know?” 

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