When Mario Cristobal was hired as Oregon’s head coach back in 2017, he was just two years removed from his Alabama days and being named the 247Sports National Recruiter of the year. It was clear he had what it took to bring talent to Eugene, but could he coach it up?
Through three-plus seasons, the answer is overwhelmingly “yes”.
After landing No. 2 overall recruit Kayvon Thibodeaux in the 2019 class, Cristobal continues to prove he can hang with the big boys like Nick Saban, Jimbo Fisher, Kirby Smart, Ryan Day and Ed Orgeron in the recruiting ranks.
Now he’s in on another No. 2 overall recruit in five-star defensive tackle Walter Nolen.
On Friday, the five-star lineman released his top eight schools as his recruitment trucks along and the Ducks made the cut along with some elite programs.
LSU, Alabama, Michigan, Georgia, Florida, Ohio State and USC also made the cut so it’s going to be an absolute bloodbath in the race to land the Cordova, Tenn., native.
Oregon football building an elite defensive line
After landing Thibodeaux in 2019, a couple of high-three-star prospects in 2020 and some depth in 2021, the Ducks are building a top defensive line and the addition of Nolen would be monstrous.
The Ducks could use some interior help and while Thibodeaux will likely be gone by the time Nolen would get to college, it would be one heck of a trade-off. He would also join four-star defensive end Gracen Halton in 2022 which could be the start of a reload.
Nolen is the top defensive tackle in the class and when guys like Saban, Harbaugh, Day, Orgeron, Smart, Dan Mullen and Clay Helton come calling, you know it’s going to be a heck of a battle to land him. Cristobal can sell him on the potential to be the next Thibodeaux-type player because, well, he’s excelled in Eugene through two seasons.