WATCH: Nico Iamaleava Dazzles En Route to Polynesian Bowl MVP

Nico Iamaleava

Nico IamaleavaTennessee quarterback Nico Iamaleava at the Polynesian Bowl. Photo via Polynesian Bowl on Twitter.

In his final performance prior to the start of his career in Knoxville, Tennessee quarterback Nico Iamaleava dazzled the spectators in Hawaii during the Polynesian Bowl on Friday night.

The Tennessee freshman early enrollee was the starting quarterback for the Mauka squad and was named the Polynesian Bowl Offensive MVP after the game.

While only playing the first half of the game, Iamaleava finished with 186 passing yards, one touchdown, and one interception on 13-of-20 passing. Iamaleava also added in five rushes for 65 yards including one major breakout run down the sideline in the second quarter.

Despite the award at the end of the game, Iamaleava had a start that he would probably want back. Iamaleava tossed an interception during his team’s first offensive possession, which can be somewhat excused considering the lack of familiarity between these players in this “all-star game”.

4⭐️ CB CJ Blocker (Utah) picks off 5⭐️ QB Nico Iamaleava (Tennessee) on the opening possession of the Polynesian Bowl 🏈 pic.twitter.com/JBv1ul9FO4

— 247Sports (@247Sports) January 21, 2023

After that, though, the Tennessee quarterback locked in.

On the very next offensive drive, Iamaleava connected with USC wide receiver Zachariah Branch for a big touchdown down the middle of the field. While Branch did have a great catch and run on the play, Iamaleava delivered a pinpoint strike across the middle.

Wow. Zachariah Branch catch and run for TD. Team Mauka ties it up 7-7. #PolyBowl2k23 🤙🌴@zachariahb03 @SportsRecruits pic.twitter.com/aQWOUxLAVO

— POLYNESIAN BOWL (@polynesiabowl) January 21, 2023

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During Team Mauka’s next drive, Iamaleava found some running room down the field and broke open an impressive 58-yard run. Iamaleava went out of bounds just a few yards away from the endzone but got close on the dash down the field.

Tennessee 5⭐️ QB enrollee Nico Iamaleava almost found the end zone on this 58-yard run!

🎥: @AustinPriceless https://t.co/sVOYb9C3J6pic.twitter.com/gyihAJIXoA

— On3 Recruits (@On3Recruits) January 21, 2023

With less than 30 seconds until the end of the half, Iamaleava was back on the field to lead his team for a quick drive. Iamaleava set his feet and launched an arching pass down the left sideline which perfectly connected with five-star tight-end Duce Robinson for a massive gain.

5⭐️ TE Duce Robinson snags the downfield shot from Tennessee 5⭐️ QB enrollee Nico Iamaleava! @polynesiabowl https://t.co/rzDWXp8Vofhttps://t.co/sVOYb9C3J6pic.twitter.com/KBH8BauUOl

— On3 Recruits (@On3Recruits) January 21, 2023

Nico Iamaleava was named the offensive MVP after the game.

Congratulations to our 2023 Polynesian Bowl MVPs. Tennessee QB @Nico_Iamaleava8 and uncommitted LB Andrew Harris from Lake Brantley (FL) took home defensive honors. @GoVols247 @GregBiggins @BrandonHuffman @Vol_Football @SportsRecruits pic.twitter.com/vaXIFWebvj

— POLYNESIAN BOWL (@polynesiabowl) January 21, 2023

Iamaleava enrolled at Tennessee on Dec. 16, 2022, and was present for the Vols’ Orange Bowl workouts and practices leading into the game. With the Polynesian Bowl now in the rearview mirror, though, Iamaleava will return to Knoxville and completely turn his attention to his freshman season with the Volunteers.

Author: Ethan Moore