The Tennessee Volunteers conclude their spring practice with Nico Iamaleava taking his place at quarterback.

The era of Nico Iamaleava has finally dawned upon Tennessee. Although he made his debut as the No. 2 quarterback in the 2023 recruiting class during the Vols’ decisive victory over Iowa in the Citrus Bowl, it’s now during the conclusion of Tennessee’s spring practice that fans get a glimpse of his progress before the Vols’ season opener against Chattanooga on August 31.

“I know what I came here to do, and it’s my job to go get that done,” said Iamaleava.

He is the first quarterback that coach Josh Heupel recruited out of high school to lead his up-tempo offense at Tennessee. Arriving on campus in December 2022, Iamaleava began learning behind Joe Milton, ultimately redshirting after appearing in five games in 2023.

When Milton opted out of the bowl game, Iamaleava stepped in as Tennessee’s starter, impressively contributing three rushing touchdowns and a passing score in a 35-0 victory that helped the Vols finish the 2023 season ranked No. 17.

Hailing from Long Beach, California, Iamaleava possesses the physical attributes at 6-foot-6 with a powerful right arm. His mobility adds another dimension to his game, ranking him second only to Arch Manning among quarterbacks and third overall in 247Sports.com’s composite rankings for 2023.

His decision to sign with the NIL collective supporting Tennessee athletes, the Volunteer Club founded by Spyre Sports Group, was highly anticipated, particularly in the wake of the NCAA’s policy change regarding athletes profiting from their name, image, and likeness.

In response to the NCAA’s shifting landscape, Chancellor Donde Plowman penned a scathing letter to NCAA President Charlie Baker, criticizing the lack of clarity in NIL regulations. Subsequently, the attorneys general of Tennessee and Virginia filed an antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA, resulting in a preliminary injunction barring the NCAA from enforcing NIL rules.

During spring practice, Iamaleava expressed gratitude for the support from Tennessee officials and emphasized the focus instilled by Coach Heupel and his staff on balancing academics and athletics.

With renovations limiting attendance at Neyland Stadium, fans will have a limited opportunity to witness Iamaleava’s progression during the Orange & White game, concluding spring practice. His performance will be pivotal for the Vols, especially with the SEC welcoming Texas and Oklahoma.

Despite additions from the transfer portal, such as wide receiver Chris Brazzell II and Dont’e Thornton Jr., Iamaleava remains central to Tennessee’s offensive improvement. With a focus on vocal leadership and physical development, he aims to elevate his game and lead the Vols to success under Coach Heupel’s guidance.

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