As Sports Illustrated All-American continues to unveil its preseason watch list rankings for the 2022 recruiting class, two priority Florida Gators targets have emerged in the upper echelon of talent at their position.
Walter Nolen and Chris McClellan, both of whom officially visited the Gators in June, cracked the top ten interior defensive linemen rankings at SIAA this week, Nolen leading the pack at the No. 1 spot.
You can find each evaluation by SIAA's scouting staff below.
1. Walter Nolen
Vitals: 6'4", 305 pounds
School: Powell (Tenn.) High School
Recruiting: Considering Michigan, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia
Nolen has fantastic lateral movement and exceptional balance. One of the strongest lineman in the country, in and out of the weight room. We haven’t noticed an ounce of stiffness (common in taller defensive lineman), and he’s a missile out of his stance. He doesn’t get washed, he doesn’t over pursue. Nolen maximizes his talents within his team’s system, yet he remains the star of the show whenever he steps on the field -- in any setting. His motor combined with his size/speed is enough for any college coach to drool over. Will make any college defensive line unit deeper the second he steps onto campus.
7. Chris McClellan
Vitals: 6'4", 290 pounds
School: Owasso (Okla.) High School
Recruiting: Considering Ohio State, USC, Florida, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, others
Leanly built his way up to 290 on his way from defensive end to defensive tackle. Nice length. After watching his film, the first thing that sticks out is his long arms and his ability to quickly strike-and-shed blockers. He has good feet to match a very strong build. Great closing burst for a lineman.
It looks like he set up blockers for his moves, based on how effective some of his swims are. McClellan can get skinny through a gap when he needs to. Skilled when slanting into gaps. Fantastic pad level throughout his film. Active hands with a nasty punch. Easily manipulates blocker’s shoulder pads. Violent in every facet of his game. Solid tackler. He does most of his damage in between the tackles, slanting or stemming and disrupting. Every time the ball is snapped, he seems to have a plan for how he is attacking each blocker. Because he attacks with a plan in mind, he maximizes his already imposing physicality.
Florida has yet to acquire a defensive tackle in the class of 2022 and has put plenty of effort into potentially landing one of, if not both Nolen and McClellan before the early signing period begins.
Nolen took two visits to UF in one weeks once in-person recruiting opened up in June, and is considering attending Florida's Friday Night Lights camp on July 30 according to his father. Nolen doesn't have a specific commitment date set but he has suggested it could happen before his senior season.
McClellan, meanwhile, has been a fast riser as a recruit this year, earning 24 offers since the conclusion of his junior season. McClellan was in Gainesville on the first open recruiting weekend and bonded with defensive line coach David Turner and quarterbacks coach Garrick McGee. McGee is also an Oklahoma native, making his presence in McClellan's recruitment crucial.
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