Back in early April, Agelu Nunu set the Florida state record for weight lifting in high school when he bench pressed 525 pounds. That caught the attention of several major schools around the college football world, and Tennessee was one of those programs. The Vols’ coaching staff made a scholarship offer to Nunu shortly after, and despite the extra attention he was receiving, it still took him by surprise.
“It was just a blessing,” Nunu told me in a recent interview. “It took me by surprise that I got an offer from them.”
Nunu is a 6-foot-1, 310-pound defensive tackle who plays for Union County in Lake Butler, Florida. The Vols weren’t his first Power Five offer, but they were his first offer from an SEC school. Arizona had previously already offered Nunu, but now Texas A&M and North Carolina are among the schools to “hit up” Nunu since UT has offered.
Tennessee defensive line coach Tracy Rocker is the coach who extended the offer to Nunu, but the three-star defensive tackle said that he’s spoken with head coach Jeremy Pruitt and others on staff as well.
Though he’s already visited Tennessee once back in May of 2018, the Vols’ offer changes things. Now, Nunu wants to make it back up to Knoxville since he has an offer in hand.
“I definitely gotta make a trip up to Tennessee,” Nunu stated.
As of now, the only trip he has planned is one to Rutgers. But that could change as the summer approaches. As for his first trip to UT’s campus, it left quite an impression on him that’s lasted almost a year later.
“It was amazing,” Nunu said of his first trip to Knoxville. “That’s probably one of the best stadiums I’ve seen in college so far. I like the staff and everything and the environment they have going on over there.”
The large defensive tackle has been playing football since he was six years old, and he’s been doing weight lifting since the fifth grade. He said he’s been aiming to break that Florida state record his whole high school career, and he was surprised he was able to finally get there.
“It took me by surprise that I actually did it,” Nunu admitted. “I was always trying for it, saying ‘let’s get to 480, now let’s get to 500.’ I’ve been shooting for that goal my whole high school career. I just never thought I’d get that high.”
Now, Nunu holds the state record, and he’s only a junior in high school still. He has time to build on that record and set a completely new bar.
But does that weight room strength translate to the football field?
“You know how some people can go and like lift 600 pounds and it not transition to the football field?” Nunu said. “Well, it’s different over here.”
As a junior last season for Union County, Nunu totaled 34 tackles, nine tackles for loss, five sacks, 14 quarterback hurries, six forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, two passes defended, and two blocked kicks according to MaxPreps. And he did that while getting double and tripled teamed essentially every game.
“I did pretty good, but playing where I play, they ain’t got three of me, so they were always scouting against me,” Nunu said of his junior season. “I got triple and double teamed the whole season. It opens up plays for our linebackers, so sometimes you gotta be a team player and take one for the team.”
Nunu is a space-eater on defense, but he’s proven to be more than that for Lake Butler. He was a force even with teams giving him extra attention. With his size and frame, though, he could develop into a solid blocker on offense.
But according to Nunu, the offensive line life isn’t for him.
“Everybody’s been telling me I should try offensive line, but I like to go chase the quarterback and go get after him and tackle him. I don’t like to protect him,” Nunu stated. “I like to go kill the quarterback, I don’t want to protect him.”
Nunu was able to put up the numbers he did on defense not only because of his strength, but also because of his mentality. He didn’t have the help he had as a sophomore when South Alabama signee Maurice Smith was working alongside him, but that didn’t deter him. He still managed to make his presence felt.
Moving forward, teams are going to continue to key in on Nunu. But that doesn’t worry him one bit.
“My sophomore year when I really blew and got my first offer, it was different because nobody really knew me,” Nunu explained. “I also had my homeboy Maurice (Strong) on my side, so I could do something more. This past year, we had some key threats, but offenses knew I was our weapon on defense and if they shut me down it would be easier.
“It didn’t work out too often, though.”