February 18, 2012

Mayes anxious to return

Anyone will tell you that a puzzle is impossible to put together without all the pieces.

Every piece must be in the box if the puzzle is to be completed, and Gulf Coast Community College (Miss.) defensive tackle Chris Mayes feels like that piece.

Mayes was a four-star member of the Georgia's 2011 signing class that was dubbed the "Dream Team" by the Georgia coaches and Bulldog Nation.

After failing to qualify, Mayes decided to attend Gulf Coast Community College, the former home of current UGA nose tackle John Jenkins, to gain eligibility.

While many fans and most members of the "Dream Team" are excited the prospect of Mayes being in Athens, no one could be more excited than the JUCO prospect himself.

"Man, I'm just so excited to be able to get back to Georgia and be a part of that team," said Mayes. "I have done a lot of good things here, but I'm ready to get back home and closer to my family and friends."

Mayes, who played nose tackle in a 3-4 defense, believes that his work at Gulf Coast thus far has only made him a better player.

"I've really improved my strength since I've been here," he said. "I've gotten better with my technique and learned the game. Coach has helped me improve a lot and I'm just trying to work hard and get back to Georgia. I was second string this year and I had like 10 tackles and a couple of tackles for a loss, but I mainly just locked down the middle and made sure that teams couldn't run inside."

The former four-star lineman is still close with the coach that brought him in the first go around, Rodney Garner, and the two talk regularly, but mostly about issues other than football.

"We talk every so often," said Mayes. "We mainly talk about class and life and stuff, but he talks to me sometimes about playing and all."

An interesting development of late at Gulf Coast for Mayes is the decision to allow him to redshirt this season to preserve a year of eligibility at Georgia.

According to the JUCO lineman, that was something that was inevitable from the beginning.

"When I came here, the coaches here and Coach Garner decided to just let me play one year," said Mayes. "He wanted me to have three years to play at Georgia, so that's the plan, and now its falling into place."

The former Spalding Panther is at Gulf Coast because of grades, but now that he has spent a year in Southern Mississippi, he believes that they will no longer be an issue.

"Things are going great in the classroom," he said. "I plan on graduating in December and enrolling at UGA in January. I already have more credits than I am supposed to have at this point."

Once Mayes gets to Athens, he will likely be a very big piece of a Georgia defense that will lose at least nine starters on defense after the 2012 season.

Some players might feel pressure in similar circumstance, but not this former "Dream Team" member.

"I just want to get there and work hard," he said. "I know Coach Garner is a great coach and has put a lot of players in the league. So I just want to get there and show what I can do."

As for the "Dream Team," it was a time in Mayes' life that he will never forget.

"It was a great experience," he said. "People in the community know who you are and all around the state. It was cool being a part of something that was known around the country. It was a great and talented group of guys, and I'm just ready to get back with them."

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