Rivals.com - Five-Star Spotlight: Walter Nolen
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Five-Star Spotlight: Walter Nolen

Walter Nolen
Walter Nolen (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Rivals.com has identified the first five-star prospects for the 2022 class and is unveiling them this week. Ten prospects have been awarded five-stars and we will profile two each day.

The five-star spotlight is now on Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy defensive tackle Walter Nolen.

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RIVALS 2022 CLASS RELEASE: Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday

FIVE-STAR SPOTLIGHT: Denver Harris | Julian Armella | Jaheim Singletary | Luther Burden | Kam Dewberry

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

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SCHOOLS TO WATCH

Contenders: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Tennessee.

Being from Olive Branch in Mississippi, Nolen is very familiar with Mississippi State and Ole Miss. He saw two teammates sign with SEC schools in 2020, Jevon Banks signed with Mississippi State and Xavier Hill with LSU, so Nolen learned a lot about recruiting from those guys.

He is still fairly open. He did make it to Alabama for a game and was in Baton Rouge to see the Tigers last fall as well — as expected, both impressed. Georgia is the school he grew up a fan of, and the Bulldogs are in this race early as well.

His most recent offers are from Florida and Miami, two programs not far from his new school, and he plans to visit each campus once recruits are allowed on the road again. Vanderbilt is a sleeper too. He has been in regular communication with the staff in Nashville.

ANALYST'S TAKE

Nolen is a freak athlete for his size. When Rivals was on the road in Mississippi and stopped in at Olive Branch High to watch practice last fall, we saw Nolen throwing the football 50-plus yards with good spin and snagging passes out of the air with one hand. He is very nimble on his feet, he moves extremely well and he is going to be one of the most coveted defensive linemen in the 2022 class. He checks all the boxes. He fires off the ball with violence and quickness. He holds his ground, works his hands and plays the run well. He is a very disruptive player.

Coaches that faced Olive Branch last season during Nolen’s sophomore year were telling Rivals that he was the best player in the state already. He has the respect of his teammates, opposing coaches scheme against him and his upside is so high. Nolen is still improving his technique and fundamentals, so he is far from a finished product. It is scary to think what he can be down the road.

ODDS AND ENDS

Off the recruiting trail, Nolen likes to bowl and swim. He was recruited by those at Olive Branch to be on the swim team. He was part of the Power Lifting team the last two years, so he loves to be in the weight room.

His favorite players in the NFL are Aaron McDonald, Khalil McDonald and Von Miller. He watched film on each regularly as he tries to learn from them and continue to progress as a defensive lineman.