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Tennessee makes five-star DT Walter Nolen’s new top three

The local 5-star is down to three finalists

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel via Imagn Content Services, LLC

5-star and No. 1 player in the country Walter Nolen has announced his top-3 schools, again, and Tennessee made the list. Again.

This saga will likely have more twists than a theatre showing exclusively M. Night Shyamalan movies. Here’s a quick recap to catch you up:

  • April 2nd: Nolen announced a top-8 that included eight teams that weren’t Tennessee.
  • July 9th: He released a list of his top-5 schools: Alabama, Michigan, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee.
  • July 25th: Nolen announced he was transferring from Cordova in West Tennessee to Powell high school here in Knoxville.
  • August 14th: Nolen released his first top-3 that included Tennessee, Texas A&M but had Florida listed instead of Georgia.
  • And finally, today, we get the second, final top-3 with Tennessee, A&M and Georgia.

Football games are won on the field, but the team’s that recruit the best are the ones still playing football games when championships are won. Tennessee Head Coach Josh Heupel and defensive line coach Rodney Garner deserve credit for dragging the Vols back into the thick of this race after not even being in the conversation during the spring.


This is a huge test for Heupel and company, but it’s also a rare opportunity. When Nolen was in Memphis, he was closer to any number of schools that were recruiting him than he was to Tennessee, and the Vols have often struggled to recruit the west side of the state. Most rational Vol fans (oxymoron) expected Nolen to go elsewhere. At that point, losing out might not have stung quite so bad.

But then, one day, he falls out of the sky and directly into UT’s zip code. That sort of thing just doesn’t happen. though, as always, there’s the other side of that coin with such a fortuitous windfall: the leagues of voracious pressure. I’m trying, but it’s right near impossible to overstate the importance of landing an instate five-star defensive line prospect during a new coach’s first season.

Let’s hope Heupel and Garner can close the deal.