Fact or Fiction: Tennessee is the front-runner for five-star Walter Nolen
Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney and national recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt and Sam Spiegelman along with Austin Price from Volquest.com tackle three recruiting topics and determine whether or not they believe each statement.
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1. With his move to attend high school in Knoxville, the Vols should be considered the front-runner now for five-star Walter Nolen.
Gorney’s take: FACT. There is no predicting what Walter Nolen is going to do in his recruitment but I’ve heard Tennessee, Florida and Michigan all look good now and I’m interested to see what comes after his expected visit to Texas A&M this weekend. By all means, getting Nolen to Knoxville for his senior year is great news for the Vols as he’s close, he could feel more settled there, he could visit campus whenever he wants. That makes many people believe that Tennessee will emerge as the front-runner. Tennessee is now the front-runner in his recruitment and the ball is in coach Josh Heupel’s and position coach Rodney Garner’s court to make it happen.
Price’s take: FICTION. Tennessee is way more in the ballgame than it was just a couple of months ago but I think it would be fool’s gold to anoint Tennessee the team to beat or the leader at this point for Nolen. Everyone thought that Florida was the team to beat just six weeks ago after his first official visit when he tweeted he was about ready to shut things down. This recruitment seems like it has many more twists and turns before December. He does like Tennessee defensive line coach Rodney Garner a good bit and I believe the family is comfortable with him and his track record of development. Most of the recent predictions are solely based off the fact that he has moved to Knoxville and most are seeing that as a connect-the-dots moment but sometimes the dots aren’t always collectible which is why I have cautioned that this is no slam dunk to happen.
2. Kam Dewberry announcing an official visit to Texas this fall means the Longhorns have an edge in his recruitment.
Gorney’s take: FICTION. Kam Dewberry putting Texas in his final five is big. The five-star tweeting in recent days that he will take an official visit to Austin in the fall is big. But I’m still not sold that the Longhorns are in first or second place here and I still think it’s Ohio State on top with Texas A&M right there as well. Getting to Texas for an official visit could change things. Seeing coach Steve Sarkisian’s offense in action could be a big deal and the move to the SEC could be compelling but right now the Longhorns are playing from behind a little bit.
Spiegelman’s take: FICTION. Dewberry visited Austin at the tail end of July after visiting Texas in June on multiple occasions. Texas is certainly entrenched as a contender along with Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Alabama, and the five-star offensive lineman has been putting an emphasis on which schools will host him for in-season visits. Now, the Longhorns are in that group along with Ohio State and Alabama, along with others, as Dewberry prepares to take the next step in sorting through his options before what appears to be a December or January target date for a decision. With all of the SEC rumblings, I like Texas as a contender but the Longhorns are still trailing a few teams in this group.
3. New tight end commit Mac Markway will remind Florida fans of Kyle Pitts.
Gorney’s take: FICTION. There is only one Kyle Pitts. We might not see someone as dominant and impactful on the college level for a long time. But Mac Markway is a nice mix of Pitts and Nick O’Leary and that was the message from position coach Tim Brewster during the recruiting process. Pitts’ athleticism was to the extreme level but Markway is a very talented athlete in his own right. He also runs routes well, separates, makes plays, blocks and does everything the tight end will need to do in Florida’s offense to be successful. Comparing anyone with Pitts is unfair but there are some similarities between the two with a sprinkle of O’Leary’s physical nature and good hands thrown in there. Brewster got another good one.
Helmholdt’s take: FICTION. Markway is an athletic tight end, but he does not have quite the level of athleticism Pitts displayed during his career in Gainesville. Markway also is on the shorter side, especially compared to Pitts. In that respect, the St. Louis product reminds me more of Antonio Gates. That's the type of build Markway possesses, and style-wise he reminds me of the former San Diego Charger and future Hall of Famer.