Most Valuable Transfer? The Case For Ole Miss DL Walter Nolen

Have the Ole Miss Rebels struck gold in acquiring defensive lineman Walter Nolen from the transfer portal?
Ole Miss Rebels defensive lineman Walter Nolen during spring practice
Ole Miss Rebels defensive lineman Walter Nolen during spring practice / Ole Miss Athletics
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Lane Kiffin has never been shy about utilizing the transfer portal, but has the Ole Miss Rebels head coach struck gold this time around?

In hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff this season, the Rebels brought back a ton of talent from last year's 11-win team and bolstered some gaps on their roster with key playmakers who decided to test the transfer market. One of the biggest grabs for Ole Miss was defensive lineman Walter Nolen.

Nolen was the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2022 cycle, and in two years at Texas A&M, he recorded 66 total tackles, 11 tackles for loss, five sacks, and one forced fumble. For a run defense that struggled at times in 2023, his addition to the Rebels roster cannot be understated.

A recent story from On3 tends to agree, tabbing Nolen as one of the "most valuable" transfers in the Southeastern Conference this season.

You can read an excerpt from the piece below.

The former consensus Top-5 recruit helped spearhead Texas A&M’s worst-to-first run defense turnaround in 2023, and he’ll look to have a similar impact for the Rebels this fall. Nolen is also an electric interior rusher, recording seven sacks with another eight hurries, per PFF.  

Ole Miss shelled out a pretty penny to beat out Oregon for Nolen’s likely final season in college — and he could be the X-factor in the Rebels making a run to the College Football Playoff. 

That final paragraph is the key: Ole Miss was really good last season, but if it wants to make the most of an opportunity to reach the CFP, additions like Nolen were a necessity.

The College Football Playoff has expanded to include 12 teams this season, and the Rebels are the poster child for teams who can benefit most from this change. In the CFP era, Ole Miss has reached a New Year's Six bowl on four occasions, and after recording the first 11-win season in program history last year, the momentum appears to be in its favor.

Many of Ole Miss' transfer portal additions came on the defensive side of the ball this offseason (EDGE Princely Umanmielen, CB Trey Amos, etc.), and if Pete Golding's defense can rise to the challenge this fall, the sky should be the limit for the Rebels.

Nolen and the revamped defensive line are planning to be a large part of that.


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John Macon Gillespie

JOHN MACON GILLESPIE

John Macon Gillespie is the publisher of The Grove Report and has experience on the Ole Miss beat spanning five years.