Let’s be clear. This is pure speculation. However, one of the top targets for Tennessee football in 2022 may be back on the market for them, and he’s an in-state prospect.
Texas A&M Aggies defensive lineman Walter Nolen made tons of headlines Thursday evening. Hereportedly had an Instagram story up with the words “portal looking good” on it.
This would be huge for Tennessee football. Nolen played six games as a freshman with two starts. He had two and a half tackles for a loss, a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and 29 total tackles, 17 of which were solo.
As a recruit, Nolen was a local prospect. He graduated Powell High School in Powell, Tenn., just outside of Knoxville. More importantly, he was a five-star and on some services was considered the best player in the nation.
Initially from the Memphis area, all signs pointed to Nolen picking the Vols when he finished his high school career in Knox County. However, he was part of that A&M class that Nick Saban accused of being bought.
Obviously, last year’s issues at A&M may have changed things, but don’t forget that UT has a larger NIL collective, and the program is currently in better shape given what Jimbo Fisher is going through. Then there’s playing time.
It’s not like Nolen wouldn’t be able to play pretty easily on Rocky Top. The Vols are losing LaTrell Bumphus and Byron Young up front, and Nolen could immediately enter that rotation.
Simply put, there are plenty of reasons that make sense for him to transfer out and head to Rocky Top. However, there are reasons to believe it means nothing.
For starters, the portal closed last week, so Nolen wouldn’t be able to enter it until after spring practice if he hasn’t already. Then there is his teammate, offensive lineman Kam Dewberry, saying that it’s all a troll job on his Instagram story.
Taking all this into account, right now, it seems more likely than not that Nolen is not entering the portal. However, it’s certainly possible that he is.
When you take into account what he has to gain by entering and specifically if he commits to Tennessee football, it’s definitely feasible. Fisher, after all, seems to be on a sinking ship.