Tennessee Vols senior offensive lineman Cade Mays said something on Tuesday evening during an appearance on “Tennessee Prime” with Jayson Swain and Austin Price that all freshmen need to hear.

Mays was speaking about the pros and cons of the transfer portal with Swain and Price when he pointed out that some young players who enter the portal need to realize it’s just not their time yet.

“Everybody’s got their different reasons [for entering the portal],” said Mays. “In some cases, it’s not their time yet. Not everybody is meant to play as a freshman, not meant to play as a sophomore. You look at some of the all-time greats, I guarantee you the majority of them started their first year on the scout team and paid their dues.”

“That’s what college football is meant to do. You’re not meant to be an 18-year-old kid out here playing with 22-25 year old men.”

Mays has a unique perspective on this. He originally signed with Georgia and played with the Bulldogs for two seasons before entering the transfer portal before the 2020 season. Mays

The East Tennessee native transferred to Tennessee, but it wasn’t because he wasn’t getting playing time at Georgia (he was a starter for the Bulldogs). Mays transferred to UT to be close to home and to play with his brother, Cooper (among other reasons, including a lawsuit filed by his father against Georgia).

I think the NCAA transfer portal is a great thing when used for the reason that Mays used it. Sometimes situations outside of football dictate that a change is necessary (and that goes both ways, plenty of Tennessee players who were receiving significant playing time transferred after the 2020 season because they felt that change was needed).

The portal, however, can be a bad thing when young players are jumping from place to place in search of playing time. That can actually be harmful to a player’s career. Moving from program to program and essentially starting over isn’t always ideal. Learning a new system and building new relationships/trust with coaches can set a player back to the point where they never see significant playing time.

This idea that players — even highly touted players — should start as true freshmen is harmful to college football.

Signing with a program isn’t the end of the journey — it’s just the beginning.

This is why being a process-oriented player is important, instead of being result-oriented.

That’s something that Vols offensive coordinator Alex Golesh touched on during his appearance at the Knoxville Quarterback Club on Tuesday.

Featured image via Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports