Five-Star Quarterback Has Big-Time Visit at Tennessee This Weekend

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    One of the most highly-touted prospects in the class of 2023 is on his way to Knoxville this weekend for a big-time visit. Quarterback prospect Nico Iamaleava did take a visit to Tennessee last fall but will be back in Knoxville this weekend for another visit.

    According to Sports Illustrated’s Matt Ray, “Iamaleava and his entire family plan to be in town on either Thursday evening or Friday morning and stay through Monday.”

    Iamaleava is universally ranked as a five-star quarterback prospect across the board, landing as the third-ranked quarterback from the class and the second-ranked player from the Golden State according to On3’s consensus rankings. In the class of 2023’s quarterback list, only Arch Manning and fellow California quarterback Malachi Nelson are ranked higher.

    “He’s a natural leader with a high compete level and a great off the field work ethic,” 247 Sports National Recruiting Analyst Greg Biggins said about Iamaleava. “There are zero character concerns with him and he’s a future captain who other players gravitate towards. There is not a throw on the field he can’t make, he’s comfortable throwing off-platform or being creative when he needs to be and combined with his rapidly improving football IQ and toughness, he has a chance to be a very special player at the next level and beyond.”

    Tennessee Football: Hendon Hooker Looking to Raise NFL Draft Stock in Final Season at Tennessee

    Iamaleava had his first unofficial visit to Knoxville last November to see the Vols take down South Alabama. Judging from interviews that took place after that event, it does sound like Iamaleava had a great experience in Knoxville and felt the love from both the football program and the fans.

    “I went to a game at Tennessee last year and loved it there,” Iamaleava told Biggins in February. “I love the coaching staff and had a great time in that atmosphere and they’re recruiting me really hard.”

    According to various reports throughout his recruitment, it sounds like there are about four teams in competition for the 6-foot-5, 195-pound quarterback: Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and Oregon.

    With Georgia and Alabama in contention for the services of Arch Manning, it could leave the door open for head coach Josh Heupel and his staff to swoop in and land one of the other top quarterbacks.

    On3 Sports’ Recruiting Prediction Machine currently gives Oregon the highest chance of landing Iamaleava at 53.2 percent. Then comes Alabama at 15.7 percent, Georgia at 12.3 percent, and Tennessee rounds out the top four at 8.9 percent.

    Early in February, Iamaleava told On3 Sports’ Chad Simmons that he is planning to announce his decision in the springtime, likely around April.

    Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker will return for his final season in 2022, with former four-star quarterback prospect Tayven Jackson already learning under Hooker. However, if Tennessee can lock down a commitment from five-star quarterback prospect Nico Iamaleava, it would be a program-defining commitment for Heupel and the Vols.

    Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.