And just like that, Walter Nolen is in the transfer portal. With Jimbo Fisher out at Texas A&M, that $76 million has to go somewhere. It is going to Fisher's record-setting buyout, as opposed to the blue-chip prospects A&M pulled in as part of their historic 2022 recruiting class. Given that Nolen is not a native Texan with plenty of options across the Power Five, no wonder he went into the transfer portal.
Nolen was every bit the blue-chipper coming out of Powell, Tennessee in the 2022 recruiting class. The No. 1 player at his position group was seen as the best recruit in the nation on some sites that specialize in that sort of thing. Regardless, teams with their collective stuff together usually contend for national titles with marquee players like Nolen in the trenches. It is why Nolen is on the move now.
In all honesty, he will have his pick of the litter as the top player in the transfer portal right now. Anybody who is anyone in the college football world should be rolling out the red carpet for this guy. Again, you cannot coach his combination of power and speed. Having that working for you as opposed to against you can take a good team to great and a great one to national title-contending.
Here are five Power Five teams I would expect would be all-in on trying to land Nolen in the portal.
Walter Nolen transfer rumors: 5 destinations for former Texas A&M star
5. Michigan Wolverines are quickly becoming a Big Ten pass-rush factory
The biggest reason why I think Michigan can finally get over the hump and win a playoff game or two this holiday season has everything to do with the Wolverines' pass rush. It has been a constant on Jim Harbaugh's program the last three seasons. Michigan is well-coached on Jesse Minter's side of the ball. Their ability to create havoc in the trenches has been a separating factor for them all year.
Although Michigan is firmly outside the SEC footprint, the Wolverines were one of the places Nolen visited out of high school. While he opted to sign with Texas A&M, Nolen could leave the SEC behind all together to join the No. 1-seeded team in this year's College Football Playoff for next season. If he went from College Station to Ann Arbor, we are talking about a defensive player of the year candidate.
To me, I would say that Michigan is only a dark horse contender to land Nolen, strictly because of geography and topography. Then again, it could be awfully hard to turn down potentially linking up with a perennial College Football Playoff contender like Michigan out of the Big Ten, expanded or not. Regardless, Michigan has shown over the last few years that they prioritize and develop a pass rush.
If Nolen were to go to Michigan, it is hard to see the Wolverines being anywhere than an 11-1 team.