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Neyland Stadium
'Tennessee Neyland Stadium' Photo Credit: TJ Chapman via CFD

True freshman quarterback Nico Iamaleava will make his first collegiate start for the Tennessee Volunteers in the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl on January 1, 2024. The Former five-star recruit was named the starter earlier today as senior Joe Milton, III announced he will be opting out of the bowl game to begin training for the NFL Draft.


An Introduction to Nico Iamaleava...

Iamaleava has seen limited time in 2023 as Milton stayed healthy throughout the season. Nico rushed eight times for 48 yards, an average of 8.8 yards per carry. As a passer he completed 61.5% of his passes, going 16-26 for 163 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.


Iamaleava was a consensus top-five quarterback in the 2023 recruiting class. Coming out of Warren High School in Long Beach, CA, Iamaleava was ranked as the No. 1 or No. 2 quarterback in the country by On3 Sports, 247 Sports, and Rivals. ESPN had the 6-foot-5-inch, 190-pound gunslinger as a four-star recruit and the No. 4 ranked quarterback.

Scouting reports of his time in high school stated that Nico has a very strong arm, top-notch velocity on his throws, is very mobile, and has tremendous accuracy with his deep passes. Those skills will help back off what will probably be a loaded box by the Iowa defense. Iamaleava’s arm strength and velocity will not be a shock to the Tennessee receivers as Milton also has a notoriously strong arm.


Hawkeyes’ defensive coordinator Phil Parker will more than likely send as much pressure as possible unless Iamaleava proves he can handle that pressure. The Tennessee faithful hope it does not take Nico long to settle in as a double-digit lead against Iowa can go a long way. On the other side of that coin, if Tennessee falls into a hole, the combination of a time-consuming offense with a tough-as-nails defense will be difficult to make a comeback against.

Cheez-It Citrus Bowl

Get ready Vols fans, this is the future of Tennessee football. And with the rise in ticket prices for the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl since the announcement Nico would be the starter, it seems Vols fans are not the only ones wanting to see that future!


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