Tennessee Gaining Momentum in Nico Iamaleava Recruitment

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    After a successful visit to Knoxville last weekend, the Tennessee Volunteers are gaining ground in the recruitment of five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava.

    On Friday morning, On3 writer Peter Warren wrote that the Vols look to be on the right track.

    “Iamaleava went on a visit last weekend to Tennessee, and the fans did everything they could do to convince him to play for the Vols. While the success of their efforts is unknown for the moment, Tennessee has momentum heading into the next few weeks of Iamaleava’s recruitment,” Warren said. “He plans on committing this spring.”

    In addition, since Iamaleava’s visit to Tennessee, the Vols have landed a few big-time predictions for the five-star’s recruitment. The day before Iamaleava’s visit to Tennessee, On3 Sports’ Recruiting Prediction Machine gave Tennessee a 12.5 percent chance to land the talented prospect. And about a few days before that, the Vols’ chances were only set at 8.9 percent.

    On Tuesday, On3 Director of Recruiting Chad Simmons submitted his prediction for Iamaleava to Tennessee, followed by National Recruiting Analyst Sam Spiegelman doing the same thing on Wednesday.

    Now, on Friday afternoon, On3’s Recruiting Prediction Machine has Tennessee as the leader in Iamaleava’s recruitment at 57.6 percent, more than double the next. Oregon is behind Tennessee in the list at 24 percent, followed by Alabama at 7.3 percent and Georgia at 5.8 percent. With some of the other top contenders still having to also focus on No. 1 overall recruit Arch Manning, it may have allowed Tennessee the critical chance to sneak in and try to grab the coveted five-star quarterback.

    Nico Iamaleava: Tennessee Fans Show Love to Five-Star QB Nico Iamaleava

    On3 Sports’ consensus rankings have Nico Iamaleava as the fifth-ranked player in the class, the third-ranked quarterback in the class, and the second-ranked player from the state of California.

    “Iamaleava just continues to get better and his upside is as high as anyone in the ’23 class,” 247 Sports’ National Recruiting Analyst Greg Biggins said in his evaluation. “He has an athletic 6-5 frame and is not just a talented quarterback but a gifted volleyball player as well. Has made huge strides over the last year in terms of his pocket feel, ability to throw on time and anticipate. He always had a big arm but can now change speeds, go through progressions and make accurate touch throws down the field look easy. He has exceptional escapability and is just as dangerous outside the pocket as he is throwing in it. He’s always a threat to take off and run for big yards when flushed or on designed running plays. He’s a tough kid as well who will stand in and take a shot and when he’s running in the open field, he looks more like a big receiver than a signal caller.”

    Iamaleava arrived in Knoxville last Thursday evening before a big visit with the Tennessee program and head coach Josh Heupel. In addition to touring the facilities and getting a feel for the coaching staff, Iamaleava and the other recruits in town were brought to the Tennessee basketball game and other activities on campus.

    As Warren stated, Iamaleava is expected to announce a commitment sometime this spring.

    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.