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Tennessee makes top five for five-star DT Walter Nolen

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A big one.

Syndication: The Commercial Appeal Max Gersh / The Commercial Appeal via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The top player in the state of Tennessee has named a top five. Walter Nolen, the nation’s No. 2 ranked player, named Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Michigan as his top five school on Friday afternoon.

The homestate Volunteers have been playing catch-up here with Nolen, along with most of the rest of the 2022 class. Josh Heupel’s staff had to prove itself to Nolen, who can go just about anywhere he wants to go in the country. The hiring of SEC veteran defensive line coach Rodney Garner likely helped this situation.

Tennessee was seemingly left for dead in this race, but they’ve now done enough to keep hanging around through the summer.

Nolen is a five-star prospect out of Cordova, Tennessee. The 6-4, 300 pound defensive tackle is the top defensive line prospect in the country, per 247Sports.

Tennessee was able to get Nolen on campus twice in June, both unofficial visits. He also saw Georgia, Florida and Alabama once, while taking an official visit to Michigan.

The Volunteers were among the first to offer Nolen all the way back in 2019.

Since Josh Heupel’s staff arrived in Knoxville, they’ve been hard at work remaking the defensive line room. Even though it was filled with veterans, the Vols added a couple of transfers in Caleb Tremblay and Da’Jon Terry. They also saw Greg Emerson, Darel Middleton and Deandre Johnson enter the transfer portal. The Volunteers currently have four seniors on the roster heading into the fall, so clearly this is an area of need in the 2022 class.

The Volunteers currently have two commitments on the defensive line in the ‘22 class — Venson Sneed and Jordan Phillips.

Obviously the battle for Nolen is a heavyweight fight, and Heupel’s staff has their work cut out for them. But for now they remain in the thick of things as the fall creeps closer.