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Joe Milton III Declares For NFL Draft, Opts Out Of Citrus Bowl

Joe Milton
Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton III. Photo via Tennessee Athletics

Joe Milton III has played his final game in a Tennessee uniform.

The super senior quarterback declared for the NFL Draft and announced his intentions not to play in the Vols’ Citrus Bowl matchup against Iowa on Wednesday morning. Milton did travel with his teammates to Orlando for the bowl game but does not intend on playing.

“To all my coaches, thanks for helping me become a better player every day, and to Coach Heup, Coach Halzle and Coach Mitch, thank you for helping me become an even better man. RESPECT,” Milton wrote in a statement on Instagram. “Playing inside Club Neyland was amazing — the energy, the noise and especially Running Through the “T”. 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 a reality as I begin preparing for the 2024 NFL Draft.

“Thanks for everything Vol Nation. JoJo out.”

With Milton not playing in the Citrus Bowl, freshman Nico Iamalaeva will start his first career game against the Hawkeyes.

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Milton had a turbulent three-year career in Knoxville after transferring from Michigan to Tennessee after Josh Heupel’s first spring in Knoxville. The big-armed quarterback earned the Vols’ starting job ahead of the 2021 season but struggled in his first five quarters before suffering an injury in the second quarter against Pitt.

But when Milton went down, Hendon Hooker came in and shined. The Virginia Tech transfer took the starting job by the reigns and never let go, turning in one of the most stories two-year stretches in Tennessee football history.

Serving as Hooker’s backup in 2022, Milton played well in mop up duty and was inserted back into the starting job after Hooker tore his ACL in the Vols’ penultimate game of the regular season against South Carolina. Tennessee asked little out of Milton in a blowout win over Vanderbilt on a rainy Nashville night before Milton performed well in the Vols’ Orange Bowl win over Clemson.

The Orange Bowl performance cemented Milton as Tennessee’s starter for the 2023 season and it was a topsy turvy year with Milton playing at a level between how he did in 2022 and 2021. Milton started all 12 games in his super senior season, completing 65% of his passes for 2,813 yards, 20 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also added 299 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.

Tennessee’s offense, and particularly, passing offense took major step back in 2023 in large part due to Milton’s play as well as a receiving core that lost its top two receivers from 2023. A year after Hooker threw for 300 yards four times and failed to reached 200 yards just once, Milton totaled 300 yards just once and failed to reach 200 yards twice.

Milton’s Tennessee career was a turbulent one and has reached its end. Now it’s Nico Iamaleava time in Tennessee.

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One Response

  1. Thanks Joe! Good luck for the future. You handled everything with maturity, class, and respect. Hopefully people learn from you how to be a team mate, freind, man, and role model.

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