Nico Iamaleava Already Showing Off His ‘Raw Skills’ and ‘Arm Talent’

Nico Iamaleava Already Showing Off His 'Raw Skills' and 'Arm Talent'

Nico IamaleavaTennessee quarterback Nico Iamaleava with Joe Milton III at practice in Knoxville. Photo by Rocky Top Insider/Ric Butler.

It’s not every day that the Tennessee football program welcomes the second-ranked overall prospect in the entire recruiting class to town. However, with five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava, that’s been the exact case this week in Knoxville.

The highly-touted quarterback officially made his practice debut last week as the Volunteers began the bowl practice schedule. While the next few weeks won’t be about anything more than just getting acclimated and setting personal expectations, it is a great opportunity for just that.

“You get a chance to sit in meetings,” Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel said on Wednesday about the early enrollees at practice this month. “You get a chance to go out there and do a lot of individual work. You get a chance to compete in some 1-on-1 situations. As much as anything, I think they learn the tempo of the game. They learn what it feels like to be a college athlete. I think it creates urgency in the way they prepare when they get back to campus.”

Still, though, Heupel has already seen “a lot” of impressive things from the lone quarterback addition in Tennessee’s class.

“Got a chance to see him in person and on tape, too,” Heupel said about Iamaleava on Wednesday. “He’s athletic, and I say that meaning that he understands his body. He can self-correct and get himself in the position as he’s learned what it should feel like in the pocket in a few short days. He can already start to correct himself, he understands when something happens, why it’s happening. That’s only going to continue to heighten.”

The 6-foot-6, 200-pound quarterback from Long Beach, California is Tennessee’s fourth-highest-ranked commit in program history. 247 Sports ranked Iamaleava as the No. 2 player in the 2023 class, the No. 2 quarterback in the class behind Arch Manning, and the No. 1 player from the state of California.

Iamaleava looked to have made his practice debut last Friday before the media had the chance to see him in person during practice on Saturday.

“Obviously, the raw skills are there,” Heupel said about Iamaleava. “Arm talent and extremely athletic and explosive inside of the pocket. Can make plays with his feet. In a short amount of time, we’ve been able to see those things already.”

More from RTI: Where Tennessee’s Recruiting Class Ranks After Early Signing Day

Nico IamaleavaTennessee quarterback Nico Iamaleava at practice in Knoxville. Photo by Rocky Top Insider/Ric Butler.

One of the more talked-about photos from last week was of Iamaleava’s first practice in Knoxville when the young quarterback was being mentored by starting Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton III – which was also very evident in the media’s viewing of practice on Saturday.

With five years of collegiate experience under his belt, there are few people better to learn from within the Tennessee program than a locker room leader and a veteran like Milton.

“Our relationship is just now growing,” Milton said on Wednesday about Iamaleava. “At first he was a recruit, now he’s a player here. He wants to learn. He wants to be better. He wants to know what I know – about the offense, about life period. But he’s a great kid, man. He’s willing to learn, willing to ask questions, not scared to ask questions. I feel like our relationship is just now starting, but it also feels like I’ve known him for a while, too.”

Nico IamaleavaTennessee quarterback Nico Iamaleava with Joe Milton III at practice in Knoxville. Photo by Rocky Top Insider/Ric Butler.

And, for those wondering, Tennessee officially cleared up a long-standing question from the fanbase since Iamaleava’s commitment in early 2022.

It’s ee-ah-MAH-LAY-ah-va.

Setting the record straight:

ee-ah-MAH-LAY-ah-va @nico_iamaleava8

— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) December 21, 2022

Author: Ethan Moore