The Hurry-Up: Five-Star DT Walter Nolen Set to Have Buckeyes on Trimmed List, Mike Hall Continues to Put in Offseason Work

By Zack Carpenter on February 9, 2021 at 6:30 pm
Walter Nolen

The Hurry-Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.

Nolen set to release top schools list

As we've said quite a bit over the past week or two, defensive tackle remains one of the Buckeyes' top priorities in the 2022 cycle. They will be looking to land at least two at the position with Caden Curry being the player we like the most to wind in Ohio State's haul.

There is another huge name out there, however, that Larry Johnson and Co. have some mega competition to get going forward.

If they could land the biggest fish of them all at that position, it would certainly lock down that spot in the class, and the Buckeyes are at least in the mix to do that with five-star defensive tackle Walter Nolen.

Nolen, the No. 2 overall player and No. 1 DT in America's 2022 class, is set to release his top-10 list on Friday, and he already knows the Buckeyes will be on that list, he told Rivals' Chad Simmons:

The no. 1 player in Tennessee had a little break from recruiting due to a broken phone late in 2020, but his phone is back working, and it is going off daily.

Ohio State is one school putting that phone to use. The Buckeyes offered early in the fall, and it was an offer Nolen wanted.

"I have always liked Ohio State, so it was an offer I was hoping to get, and I got it. It meant a lot to get it, and I had a lot of interest in them before I even had the offer.

"Since they offered, I have been talking to coach Larry Johnson a lot. He is a really good coach, he has coached a lot of guys that play in the NFL, and he is a great person too.

"I know I want to visit Ohio State as soon as we can get back out."

Even at this state of his young high school career, Nolen is an NFL-type prospect, and he has been compared to Ed Oliver, the Buffalo Bills defensive tackle and former three-time first-team All-American at Houston, by 247Sports' Barton Simmons:

“Thick, stocky interior defender with good arm length and a powerful frame,” Simmons wrote. “Sudden get-off and outstanding first-step quickness. Good lateral quickness at the snap. Jarring punch and knock-back ability. Delivers a blow when being blocked. Outstanding hand quickness and activity. Arrives with heavy pads as a tackler. Good closing speed in the backfield. Can bend and redirect. Doesn’t stay blocked. One of the most disruptive defenders in the 2022 cycle.”

We expect the normal powers that be in Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State to make that list, with Tennessee and new head coach Jeff Heupel making a push to keep the Volunteer State's top-ranked prospect within the borders.

Hall putting work in

Since we're on the subject of defensive tackles who are going to be awesome in college, check out this workout video of Ohio State 2021 signee Mike Hall:

Hall finished the cycle as the No. 52 overall player and No. 5 defensive tackle in the 2021 class. It's a shame he didn't finish tucked into the top 50 so that he could have that label next to him his entire career, but Hall is the last person to actually care about that after his jump from being ranked outside the top 400 into top-55 range.

Despite his high school career on the field being over at Streetsboro (Ohio) High School, the 6-foot-3, 290-pounder – who looks as athletic as any 3-tech defensive tackle in his class in that video – is continuing to put in offseason work. 

The original plan that Johnson had laid out for him was for Hall to not redshirt his first season and compete for a spot on the two-deep. That got a bit more difficult with the return of Haskell Garrett and Antwuan Jackson, but Hall still has the talent to do so.

Making it more difficult is that Hall will not be enrolling until the summer, so offseason workouts are of even more paramount importance as he looks to be in the best shape possible when he gets into the hands of Mickey Marotti and Quinn Barham. Led by those two coaches, the Buckeyes want Hall to stay in the 280-290 range when he gets to campus in the summer but lost some fat and add muscle.

“No, not really. It’s OK,” Hall told Eleven Warriors previously when asked if he was disappointed at not being an early enrollee. “As long as I’m going there, it’s no rush. It is an advantage for the guys that’s going early, just to get more work and to know the gameplan and all that. And just to get bigger, faster, stronger. They have an advantage especially in school, too. Those guys start school January 11th.

“(My freshman year goals are) just to get a lot of reps on game days and just show to the coaches that even though I’m a freshman I can be a leader in practice and on and off the field.”

If he follows the plan Johnson and Co. have for him, the Buckeyes believe that Hall “will be one of the best d-tackles to ever come out of Ohio State.”

McCullough still locked in

As we touched on briefly Monday, despite the father of Ohio State linebacker commit Dasan McCullough taking a job as Indiana's associate head coach/running backs coach, the younger McCullough says he is locked into being a Buckeye.

"I'm beyond happy for my dad and this opportunity," McCullough told Hayes Fawcett. "Going to feel good beating him for 3-4 years. Imma Buckeye."

If McCullough did leave for the Hoosiers and the opportunity to be coached by his dad, it would be very hard to blame him. But it appears for now that McCullough will be staying true to his commitment – though he will soon be the top-ranked player in Indiana instead of Kansas as he will be playing the rest of his high school ball in the Hoosier State.

Header photo: Walter Nolen – Max Gersh/USA Today

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