UPDATE: Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports has put in a crystal ball projection for Iamaleava to Tennessee. The timing is pretty interesting here, considering what news just came out.
Per Stewart Mandel of The Athletic, a 2023 athlete signed an $8 million NIL deal on Friday. Iamaleava visited Tennessee last weekend, and has now picked up two crystal ball projections pointing towards the Vols.
Could this deal be Iamaleava’s? It’s entirely possible, just playing a simple game of connect the dots.
EXCLUSIVE: A 2023 recruit signed a deal with a school's NIL collective today that could pay him more than $8 million. @TheAthletic reviewed the contract. Here's how a donor group "buys" a recruit for the next 4 years without putting it in writing.https://t.co/5VjdA6MlOc— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) March 12, 2022
Through all of the year one success, one question remains about Josh Heupel — can he recruit at a high enough level to hang with Georgia and Alabama? Very few can, which separates the elite from the good to great.
Heupel put together a respectable class during the 2022 cycle, all things considered. The class of 2023 will be the real first indicator though. Enter five-star quarterback Nicholaus Iamaleava — one of Tennessee’s top targets in the class of 2023.
The California product took a visit to Tennessee at the end of the season, taking in the Vanderbilt game. That in itself was a big deal, considering the distance. Iamaleava’s interest in Tennessee was confirmed by last week’s visit, which seemed to go pretty well.
Now a heavyweight recruiting analyst is projecting him to become a Volunteer. This week, Chad Simmons, now with On3, predicted Iamaleava to land with Tennessee.
Chad Simmons has predicted that Nico Iamaleava is coming to Tennessee ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Mmgr3oZysq— Tennessee DieHards (@DieHardsVols) March 9, 2022
This, of course, coming directly off of his visit to Knoxville. Iamaleava took in the basketball game against Arkansas, attended a softball game and posted pictures around Knoxville all weekend long. The student section even graced him with a “We want Nico!” chant during the basketball game.
He even teased some potential new jerseys for Tennessee in an interview with Volquest.
Iamaleava can essentially pick any school in the country, so his interest in Tennessee is obviously a huge deal. The 6-5, 195 pound quarterback is the third-ranked player in the class of 2023, per 247Sports. He’s one of those prospects that could set things in motion for the rest of the cycle.
Alabama, Georgia, Oregon and UCLA are all still in the mix here, too. However, Tennessee has gone from perhaps an afterthought by most, to now firmly in the thick of this battle — perhaps even the perceived leader for the time being.