Rivals.com - Tuesdays with Gorney: Walter Nolen, Kadyn Proctor, Luther Burden
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Tuesdays with Gorney: Walter Nolen, Kadyn Proctor, Luther Burden

In his weekly series, Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney offers his thoughts on recruiting topics and storylines that impact the national landscape.

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NOLEN’S TOP THREE

I talked with Walter Nolen’s father this week and he said something interesting about the five-star’s top three of Tennessee, Texas A&M and Georgia. It’s a “top three” not a “final three” and that means other teams definitely still have a shot to change things around in Nolen’s recruitment.

Here’s the feeling I got after the conversation: Nolen really likes and respects the job Tennessee position coach Rodney Garner has done in his career and it could be playing a big influence in his thinking. The location to his new high school in Powell, Tenn., from Knoxville does not hurt but it probably is not the deciding factor in Nolen’s decision.

Texas A&M assistant Elijah Robinson might not have the resume of Garner yet but the development of elite defensive linemen in College Station is going along swimmingly. Pumping players into the NFL from there helps a lot. Plus, when the family visited they loved the atmosphere and environment, and that is a big bonus as well.

Nolen has watched Georgia’s defense - especially along the defensive line - dominate early this season. There is development, putting players into the NFL, and the coaching staff in Athens has been aggressively recruiting the five-star.

Those are the top three - not the final three - and that’s where Michigan and others fit in. The five-star was in Ann Arbor again this weekend (he has family that lives in the Detroit area) and Nolen loves that Michigan is running NFL schemes. The Wolverines have former pro coaches on the sidelines and that's a consideration for sure as they stay in this.

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PROCTOR LAYS OUT CY-HAWK

Kadyn Proctor does not say much when asked about his recent visits but it’s to the point and direct. So we can still get a feel for what he’s thinking on his top schools.

The 2023 five-star offensive tackle from Pleasant Hill (Iowa) Southeast Polk visited Iowa two weekends ago for the win over Indiana and loved the atmosphere there. He then was in Ames over the weekend for the big in-state rivalry where the Hawkeyes soundly defeated Iowa State, 27-17.

I asked him if Iowa’s win over the Cyclones influenced his recruiting at all and he said it was just one game. In that regard, that’s good news for Iowa State but it certainly cannot hurt Iowa’s chances with the in-state five-star that he saw two impressive and dominating performances from the Hawkeyes in back-to-back weeks.

Proctor’s next trip will be to the USC-Notre Dame game in late October with Ohio State, Alabama and others involved in his recruitment, too.

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THOUGHTS ON BURDEN

There was some talk this summer that Luther Burden might not have elite speed or route-running ability and that he might come off the No. 1 line in the receiver rankings. But after what I saw Friday night, I have no problem keeping him at the top of the list as the best receiver in the class.

When East St. Louis, Ill., threw the ball his way against a very talented albeit young Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco secondary, Burden was outstanding. If we’re nitpicking, he had one drop on a tough throw in the first quarter but everything else that came his way, Burden caught it and then made things happen after the catch.

Burden is a great route runner, he can change speeds, he impacts the game both on offense and special teams (he had two touchdowns at receiver and returned a punt for a score) and definitely showed he can make tough catches with cornerbacks draped on him.

The other five-star receivers, Evan Stewart and Kevin Coleman, are probably a tad more dynamic and sudden but Burden is more physical and has the ability to get open against anybody as well.

Anaheim (Calif.) Servite’s Tetairoa McMillan and Richmond (Va.) St. Christopher’s Andre Greene are long, physical specimens who could make an argument as well but Burden was phenomenal and definitely backed up his ranking as Georgia, Missouri and others battle it out for him.

RELATED: Burden interview

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OREGON’S RECRUITING IS REASON FOR UPSET

Before acting too surprised that Oregon upset Ohio State on Saturday, let’s just remember the Ducks have won three-straight Pac-12 team recruiting titles. Their roster is filled with five- and high four-star prospects that could have gone anywhere in the country.

This win was not a fluke. Mario Cristobal and his staff have recruited incredibly well over the last few years and it’s evidenced by two things: One, Oregon went to Ohio State and won. And two, the Ducks did it without five-star defenders Kayvon Thibodeuax and Justin Flowe, who were both out with injuries.

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