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Inside Elite DL Walter Nolen's Top 8 Release

Nation's most coveted interior defensive line prospect trims list of programs

Memphis (Tenn.) St. Benedictine's at Auburndale defensive lineman Walter Nolen is arguably the top prospect in the country regardless of position in the class of 2022. Programs all over America covet his commitment and the list of top options was narrowed Friday.

The 6'4", 300-pound recruit has trimmed his previous shortlist of 10 favorites to eight, adding one new program and dropping three others from the last list. 

Nolen's new list consists of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon, and Southern Cal. Prior to the public release, Nolen went in-depth on each school with SI All-American.

On Alabama: "I just feel like Coach (Freddie) Roach can help me get where I want to be, and just being able to play for the coaching staff they have is a pretty great opportunity. They have been saying, look at what they've done in the past and how Alabama defensive linemen are prospering in the NFL." 

On Florida: "When I was at IMG (Academy), I feel like that helped better our relationship and me being able to talk to them and them just being two to three hours away. It was just a good chance, so being a college town, they are one of the biggest college towns you can think of, so that helps them. Eventually, when you get to college, you have to think about, you are going to share reps with the best because everybody is there for a reason, and you have to take that into consideration and get every opportunity you can. I feel like with Florida's offense getting off the field a lot it gives a chance for their defensive linemen to get more reps." 

On Georgia: "It is just like once I dropped my top 10, they picked it up a lot. They have picked up the speed, and now, I am talking to them every day, and just being able to get on zooms and get on the board with them has been pretty good and just showing me how they would use me on the defensive line and stuff. After the UA camp, we drove to Athens and drove around the campus for a bit. It was pretty good, even though I couldn't get in contact with coaches and stuff. It was still good to be able to ride around campus and see it." 

On LSU: "It is just the relationship I have been building with Coach O (Ed Orgeron), and I have been steadily building on it. It is just one of my better ones. They have been just saying other schools want you, but we need you and stuff like that."

On Michigan: "Just talking with Kody (Jones) that has been my childhood friend. We have been playing football together forever, and being able to take that to college would be great. Talking with Coach (Mike) Maconald and Coach (Ronald) Bellamy and all of them and just being able to talk to them about using me as a defensive lineman and defensive end. I feel like that is a defensive front I would want to be in. They have told me they would use me all across it." 

On Ohio State: "Just talking to Coach (Ryan) Day and Coach (Larry) Johnson, it has been one of my better ones. Just watching some of the guys in my class commit, I feel like it would be one of the best opportunities for me to team up with some of the people I would like to play with." 

On Oregon: "They are just saying I have a big body frame, and with my athleticism, I will be able to play on the inside and the outside. They are saying with their linebackers behind me it will free up the opportunity for me to take the one-on-ones. That is what I like."

On USC: "When you talk about building your brand, I mean that is probably one of the biggest cities you can go to with the name, image, and likeness stuff coming up. Just being able to play for Coach (Vic) So'oto and them is a great opportunity, not just as a football player but as a business person." 

The Trojan pitch includes the potential to pair with Korey Foreman, the SI99 trench talent from the class of 2021. 

"I mean, it would be great," Nolen said. "Going there, me or him would have to take on a double team at some point, and it would give the other the chance to go one-on-one and just end up being one of the best duos of defensive linemen in college football. He has told me he doesn't regret his decision, and it would be a great opportunity for both of us to get our names out there. 

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"He is one of the top defensive linemen in the country, so it would be a great opportunity.

Visits are expected to open in June, for the first time since March of 2020. The window will be the next part of the recruiting process for Nolen, and he has started navigate that side with official visits.

"The first week of June, I am going to Florida for an official visit on the first weekend," Nolen told SI All-American. "Then, on the 18th-20, I am going to be in Michigan. After that, I am not sure, really. I have been thinking about that a lot. I am not sure how I am going to use them yet."

Georgia was the new addition to the list for Nolen, with Auburn, Clemson, and Tennessee falling off. He says he will not write any of those programs off at this stage, much like he gave Georgia an opportunity to get back in it this time around.

"It just depends because, just like how Georgia came back on the list, everybody has an opportunity until I sign."

A decision is not to be expected from Nolen until late in the recruiting cycle. 

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