Arguably the most talked about prospect in this cycle is Nico Iamaleava. The five-star signal-caller is the crown jewel of the 2023 Tennessee football recruiting class and he is expected to compete for the starting spot on day one.
Iamaleava is Tennessee’s fourth-highest all-time commit. Here are five things to know about Iamaleava.
Where Iamaleava ranks
Iamaleava measures out at 6-foot-5 and 195-pounds. He comes from Downey Warren High School in Downey, California.
He ranks as a five-star prospect across the board. Iamaleava also ranks as the No. 2 prospect in the nation and the No. 2 quarterback, trailing only Archie Manning in both categories. He is the No. 1 prospect from California.
Decision to choose Tennessee football
Iamaleava had his fair share of choices for college, but made national headlines when he committed to Tennessee football in March. He was extended a scholarship offer from the Vols in May 2021.
Iamaleava only took one official visit during his recruitment, choosing to visit Knoxville. He chose Tennessee football over Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Ohio State, and UCLA, among others.
Schools continued to contact Iamaleava following his commitment, but he remained firmly committed to the Vols and is now enrolled at Tennessee.
Iamaleava’s stats jump out at you on paper. He consistently led his high school to the California state playoffs.
In his senior season, Iamaleava finished with 1,986 yards and 25 touchdowns on 119-199 passing. He also ran for 399 yards and six touchdowns on 46 attempts.
Throughout his entire high school career, Iamaleava finished with 5,234 yards passing and 75 touchdowns. He only threw seven interceptions in his high school career.
Why Tennessee football?
Iamaleava had his choice of any school in the country, so what made him want to come across the country to Knoxville?
Many questioned the highly-touted signal-callers decision, but he stayed firm and is happy with his choice.
“Man, it feels great,” Iamaleave told 247Sports about his commitment. “I was telling everybody — just when I committed, a lot of people didn’t know why or just had a lot of whys on why I chose Tennessee. And I told them what the coaching staff told me, and they’ve pretty much held up their end of the word from when I committed. It’s exciting to see what they’re doing right now with this class, and I can’t wait to see what our class does.”
Greg Biggins of 247Sports projects Iamaleava could become a top 10 draft pick when his college career is over. He compares most to Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert.
“Iamaleava just continues to get better and his upside is as high as anyone in the ’23 class,” Biggins writes. “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. He’s a natural leader with a high compete level and a great off the field work ethic. 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.”