Tennessee is expected to have one of the most exciting young quarterbacks in college football this season in Nico Iamaleava.

Unfortunately, the Vols will not be bringing the talented young player to SEC Media Days next week.

The 6-foot-6, 210-pound California prep product has been on the radar for quite some time, among the first prospects involved in high-profile NIL dealings leading up to his enrollment at Tennessee.

Iamaleava showed what all the hype was about in the Vols’ 35-0 rout of No. 20-ranked Iowa in the Citrus Bowl, completed 12 of 19 passes for 151 yards and a TD without throwing an interception.

Iamaleava also rushed for 3 touchdowns, breaking off a 19-yard run at one point, and was named the Citrus Bowl MVP.


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“He’s unique in his frame and skillset, his ability to move, extend and make plays off schedule,” said UT coach Josh Heupel, himself former national championship quarterback in 2000 and Heisman Trophy runner-up during his playing career at Oklahoma.

“His experience in the bowl game, he played extremely well, which I think was a huge part of his urgency since he got back in the (football) building in January.”

Heupel has also been impressed, and likely relieved, that Iamaleava has proven popular in the locker room in a day and age where high-dollar NIL deals can affect team chemistry.

“He continued to grow into his frame and add muscle to it and had a great spring,” Heupel said. “But as a young guy, with how high-profile he was in recruiting, his ability to enter into our building and be one of the guys and garner respect fro the guys around him and be a magnet and draw people to him. he’s real unique.

“I’m real excited about what he’s done up to this point. He’s got to have a great summer to be ready to play the way we need him to in the fall.”

Georgia has won seven straight in the series, including an epic battle two seasons ago in a matchup featuring two teams ranked No. 1.

The Vols were No. 1 according to the College Football Playoff selection committee, while the Bulldogs head the No. 1 spots in the AP Top 25 and Coaches’ Poll.