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Nico Iamaleava to Start Citrus Bowl

Nico Iamaleava
KNOXVILLE, TN – November 04, 2023 – Quarterback Nico Iamaleava #8 of the Tennessee Volunteers after the game between the UConn Huskies and the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Ian Cox/Tennessee Athletics.

Tennessee football quarterback Joe Milton III has opted out of the Citrus Bowl, per an announcement on his Instagram page.


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With Milton opting out to focus on preparation for the 2024 NFL Draft, freshman five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava is slated to start his first career game on Monday.

Iamaleava appeared in four games, completing 16 of 26 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown along with five rushing attempts for 44 yards.

Iamaleava’s appearances came against Virginia, UTSA, UConn and Vanderbilt. With Iamaleava only appearing in four games, he is eligible for a redshirt season. (Note: the bowl game does not count toward a redshirt).

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Milton’s Tennessee career comes to a close after three seasons on Rocky Top in which he made 14 starts, two in 2021 and 12 in 2023. Milton’s last season of his six-year collegiate career was his best, as the Pahokee, Florida, native completed 229 of 354 passes for 2,813 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions while adding 299 yards and seven touchdowns on 78 carries.

Milton’s best game of his career was his last, too, as he accounted for six total touchdowns in Tennessee’s 48-24 win over Vanderbilt in Neyland Stadium.

“Playing inside Club Neyland was amazing – the energy, the noise and especially Running Through the “T”,” Milton said in his Instagram post. “I’m going to miss it all. Playing in the NFL has always been my dream since I was 4 years old. Now, it’s time to turn those dreams into reality as I begin preparing for the 2024 NFL Draft.”

The Vols and Hawkeyes will kickoff at 1 p.m. ET on Monday, January 1, 2024, in the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl.

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