Tennessee’s top overall target in the 2022 class played in Neyland Stadium for the first time on Friday night. Walter Nolen, a five-star defensive tackle, transferred to Powell for his senior season, a school that sits just outside of Knoxville.
After being viewed as a longshot for Nolen when Josh Heupel and staff arrived, the Vols have surged as of late, thanks to a budding relationship between he and defensive line coach Rodney Garner. The veteran defensive line coach has a record of development that speaks for itself, making Tennessee a real contender for Nolen.
On Friday night, Tennessee fans got a glimpse of what Nolen playing at Neyland could look like.
Walter Nolen is ready to go at Neyland stadium for the Powell Panthers pic.twitter.com/ndxIxbz5Fw— Matt Ray (@mattraySI) August 13, 2021
The 6-4, 305 pound defensive tackle stuck out like a sore thumb on the sidelines and on the field. He took the field for the second snap of Powell’s defensive series and immediately made an impact.
So uhhhh…. Walter Nolen is here. pic.twitter.com/ovi8UDgXUe— Rob Harvey (@RobMHarvey) August 13, 2021
Nolen is the second ranked player in the class of 2022, per 247Sports. He’s also the top player in the state of Tennessee, and landing him would send a big message around the Volunteer State as Heupel tries to bolster in-state efforts.
Florida and Texas A&M are also in the thick of things with Nolen, while Alabama, Georgia and Clemson are lurking. Nolen took two visits to Tennessee in June, as the Volunteers clawed back into the hunt. He’s coming off a visit to Texas A&M in late July, which have the Aggies firmly in the mix.
Nolen initially intended to make a commitment in August, but now that timeline seems like it will be pushed further out into the fall.