Back in April, Tennessee football didn’t even make the top eight for five-star defensive lineman Walter Nolen out of St. Benedict High School in Cordova, Tenn., just outside of Memphis. Given the 3-7 record, the firing of Jeremy Pruitt and the NCAA investigation, that made sense.
However, in less than four months, Josh Heupel has been working his magic and now has the Vols as the favorite to pull off a miracle. UT made its way into the top five for Nolen, who is listed as a five-star across all services, two weeks ago, on the heels of multiple official visits with Heupel.
Well, now it turns out Tennessee football is the favorite to land Nolen. While there are no predictions on the 247Sports Crystal Ball, the Vols became the favorite by a two-thirds majority on the Rivals Future Cast with this move and by a plurality on the Rivals Fan Future Cast. Beforehand, the Florida Gators were the unanimous favorite on the Future Cast.
So what changed? Well, Nolen will be moving to Powell High School in Knox County, just 10 miles northwest of the University of Tennessee’s campus, to finish his career, according to Ryan Callahan of GoVols247. This comes after he played for former UT defensive lineman Marlon Walls while in Shelby County.
Nolen has also played at Olive Branch High School in Mississippi, just outside of Memphis, and at Bradenton Academy in Florida. This move, however, appears to be what is by far the most impactful one when determining where he will end up.
It’s probably not a coincidence that Nolen has made this move just as his coach at St. Benedict, a former player on UT, has left and just as Rocky Top itself continues to rise on his lists. All of that together makes it obvious that the Vols should be the favorite.
Standing between 6’4″ and 6’5″ while weighing between 300 and 325 pounds, Nolen would obviously be a huge pickup for Tennessee football. He is now even more connected to the program, and that can only work to the Vols’ advantage.