Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
There certainly was a lot of smoke around five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava and Tennessee in recent weeks. Today, he made his decision.
Iamaleava is officially committed to Tennessee.
The consensus five-star quarterback is the third-ranked overall player in the class of 2023, per 247Sports. Iamaleava is a native of Long Beach, California, playing at Long Beach Poly High School. The 6-5, 185 pound passer had offers from Oregon, UCLA, Alabama, Georgia and just about anyone else you could dream up.
Tennessee entered the race last year, getting him on campus for a visit during the Vanderbilt game last season. They again got him on campus for another visit a couple of weeks ago, where everything seemed to go extremely well.
And there there was this — The Athletic reported that a 2023 prospect had inked an agreement with an NIL collective that could pay more than $8 million. Considering the timing, a lot of fingers began pointing towards Tennessee and Iamaleava.
Welcome to the new era of recruiting, where Tennessee has allegedly made a huge move to get out ahead of the pack.
You could say it was a ... collective effort https://t.co/OZlOmBGLsJ— Bud Elliott (@BudElliott3) March 21, 2022
Make no mistake, this is an absolutely massive pull for Josh Heupel. We all knew he could produce offense, but his staff’s recruiting was the biggest question-mark. Clearly with this development, that’s not going to be an issue going forward. Iamaleava is the type of prospect that you can build a class around — one that will attract elite talent to come join him.
Five-star receiver Carnell Tate and four-star receiver Devin Hyatt are two names to watch on that front.
Tennessee has one more season of Hendon Hooker before moving to a new quarterback era in 2023. Four-star quarterback Tayven Jackson joins Joe Milton on the roster this spring, each with eyes on potentially landing the starting job next season. Milton would have one season remaining. Clearly, a guy like Iamaleava entering the mix next season will certainly change the outlook on that battle.
This is an absolute statement made by Heupel and Tennessee. More to come on this development in the coming days.