December 19, 2012

Mayes ready to get started

Wednesday was the first day that Junior College players who are set to enroll mid-year could sign their official Letter-of-Intent, and for Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (Perkinston, Miss.) defensive lineman Chris Mayes, the second time was the charm.

Mayes originally signed with Georgia in 2011, but failed to qualify academically and enrolled at MGCCC, and just year and a half later, the three-star defensive tackle signed his Letter-of-Intent to join UGA's 2013 class.

Mayes couldn't be more thankful.

"I'm excited. It's great to get back to Georgia and settle in," said Mayes. "I took my official last weekend, and it was great to be back. I'm glad I was able to get things worked out and get back to UGA, and now I'm just looking to jump in and contribute right away."

There is no time, however, for Mayes to rest on his laurels.

Georgia will lose seniors John Jenkins, Abry Jones, and Cornelius Washington from its 2012 defensive line, and another lineman, Kwame Geathers, is considering an early jump to the NFL.

The Griffin native, who will have three years to play three, knows that he has to hit the ground running.

"I hope to contribute as a run stopper in the middle of the defense and plug up a lot of holes," he said. "We ran the 3-4 where I was at, at Gulf Coast. I have a lot of experience there. I'm used to double teams and triple teams. Hopefully I can do the same thing for Georgia."

While he will certainly need to learn the terminology and nuances of Georgia's 3-4 attack, size will be no issue for Mayes.

"Right now I am 6-foot-4, 335 (pounds), but I don't know if Coach (Rodney) Garner wants me to lose or gain," he said. "I think I'll probably lose five to ten more pounds so I can pick up more speed."

Since enrolling at MGCCC, Mayes has added nearly 30 pounds to his frame, but he says that the majority of his growth has come in his strength and his knowledge of the game of football.

"I think I've improved strength wise and technique," he said. "I think I understand the game better. I wasn't too far into the game when I committed to Georgia. I didn't know about gaps and things like that. Nose guard at the high school level is just a different role. There (Gulf Coast) they taught me out to play the position and how to execute at the position."

Many are looking for the JUCO defender to come in and make an impact right away, and those are expectations in which Mayes believes he is capable of meeting.

"I think so," said Mayes when asked if he expected to play a big role in Georgia's defense in 2013. "I'm used to being thrown in the fire, and just let my athletic ability work. I think I'll be ready when Coach Garner gets going with me."

A number of details have yet to be worked out in regards to what Mayes future will hold once he gets to Georgia's campus such as his major and the classes he will need.

He does, however, know who his roommate will be and Mayes believes he can learn quite a bit from someone who took a very similar path to UGA.

"My roommate right now is going to be Mark Beard," said Mayes. "The offensive lineman, No. 79 I think. It's going to be him and he's a JUCO guy too, so I can learn a lot from him and his experience."

Mayes has built a strong relationship with a number of Georgia defensive coaches, but Rodney Garner, who coaches the UGA defensive line, has handled most if not all of the JUCO standout's recruitment.

Rumors started to surface on Wednesday that Garner is a candidate for an assistant coach position at Auburn, which is also his alma mater.

Mayes says that he hasn't heard such rumors, but isn't surprised that a school would want the Georgia assistant.

"I talked to him earlier today when we were talking about my Letter of Intent. He was telling me to get it signed," he said. "He didn't mention anything about it (Auburn), but he is a great coach and I think any school should want him."

When all is said and done on Wednesday, Mayes, after originally signing with UGA 20 months ago, will know that his plan has come together.

"Oh yeah, I have always planned and hoped to get back to UGA," said Mayes. "Schools came and looked, and I was just ready to come back to contribute to my home state and home team."

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