By Jimmy Hyams / @JimmyHyams
Tennessee defensive coordinator Tim Banks was speaking Monday at the Knoxville Quarterback Club when the perfect softball question was tossed his way.
“How have you enjoyed working with the greatest defensive line coach in America,’’ Banks was asked.
Sitting a few yards from Banks at another table was the nation’s top-ranked recruit, defensive tackle Walter Nolen, who had been honored as the defensive player of the week by the Club.
Banks didn’t swing and miss as he spoke about defensive line coach Rodney Garner.
“He’s very consistent, no matter where he’s been,’’ Banks said, while Nolen, the Powell High School product, peered as his cellphone, not looking up.
“Whether he’s at UT or some of the lesser programs he was at in the SEC (Auburn and Georgia), he has a way of getting the potential out of those guys. … He’s done a great job with our front, getting those guys to reach their potential. …
“I think he’s definitely a guy that gets the best out of each and every one of his players. That’s not just me saying it. I think if you look at his resume, it speaks for itself.’’
Then came the hammer:
By far, he’s the best in the country and you would be a fool not to want to come play for him,’’ Banks said.If you want to play in the NFL, this is a good starting place.’’
Nolen had to hear the comment, but he never looked up from his phone.
The audience laughed, even cheered.
But Nolen seemed undeterred.
Nolen, of course, is committed to Texas A&M. He has visited the Aggies multiple times.
He has also visited UT.
Prying Nolen away from A&M would be a major coup for the Vols.
And in the game of recruiting, you never say never.
The early signing period starts Dec. 15.