June 18, 2024

In the Citrus Bowl, Nico Iamaleava proves he is worth the money, and Tennessee football’s future lies with the five-star player.

Two of the five five-star quarterbacks in the 2023 recruiting class have already transferred to other universities. Dante Moore has left UCLA, and Malachi Nelson is moving out of USC. Though two of the best quarterbacks received their first-team opportunities in bowl season and will take over the program in 2024, Arch Manning at Texas will probably remain behind Quinn Ewers for another season.

Tennessee football coach Josh Heupel speaks on upcoming season

In the Alamo Bowl, Oklahoma’s starting quarterback, Jackson Arnold, the fourth-best quarterback in the class, completed 26 of 45 passes for 361 yards and two touchdowns, but threw three interceptions in the team’s 38-24 defeat against Arizona. Nico Iamaleava then had the opportunity to demonstrate why he was the No. 2 quarterback in the talented freshman class on New Year’s Day. Iamaleava first gained notoriety when it was rumored that he had accepted a $8 million NIL deal to attend Tennessee. Despite this, many people found it difficult to pronounce his name, including the person who named him the Citrus Bowl MVP.

Iamaleava’s actual earnings from NIL deals have never been disclosed, but regardless of the amount, he seems to be worth it. Iamaleava only completed 12/19 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown against Iowa on Monday at Camping World Stadium in the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl. However, he ran for three touchdowns as Tennessee defeated Iowa 35-0.

That performance was against an Iowa squad that allowed just 13.2 points per game and was ranked No. 5 in the nation for total defense.Despite having only tried 26 passes this season, the 6-foot-6 Californian appeared at ease right away, hitting tight end Tyler Warren for nine yards on his first pass attempt.

The Iowa defense kept the game scoreless through the first quarter after a holding call on an Iamaleava scramble halted Tennessee’s first drive. However, he guided Tennessee on a seven-play, 73-yard drive that was completed with a 15-yard touchdown to start the second quarter. With quarterback Hendon Hooker, Tennessee’s attack was almost unstoppable in 2022. Josh Heupel was an expert at quickly exposing a defense vertically after the play and extending them horizontally prior to the snap. Joe Milton III this year possessed all the arm power needed to duplicate Hooker’s accomplishments, but lacked the dexterity and accuracy. Iamaleava showed that he has it all at the Citrus Bowl.

Not even the complete tale is conveyed by the passing numbers. Some of Iamaleava’s best passes were incomplete, such as a wonderful deep ball from midfield to the front corner of the end zone in the second half that Ramel Keaton just gave up on, or a tight-window slant that Keaton missed with 2:07 remaining in the first quarter. An excellentIamaleava’s first test against Jackson Arnold and Oklahoma is scheduled for September 21, 2024, in Norman; but, based on what we’ve seen this bowl season, the Vols will have the upper hand in the most crucial position on the field.

It will be difficult to go to Athens, but Alabama must visit Neyland Stadium on the third Saturday in October. The Vols finished 9-4 this year, Heupel’s third, which was disappointing, but Iamaleava can definitely lead this team to one of the 12 berths in the 2024 College Football Playoffs. That opportunity is worth every penny of the nonexistent bundle he received.

Four of the top quarterbacks in the nation are participating in the 2023 playoffs. Indeed, Texas, Alabama, Michigan, and Washington have allIt was a weakness for the Vols this season. To be honest, Tennessee hasn’t had a quarterback worthy of a championship since the turn of the century, with the exception of Hendon Hooker. That will no longer be the case.

Opt-outs and reduced significance of the games are only two of the numerous reasons why bowl season has lost its charm. They certainly have importance as a window into the future, and if you look through Tennessee’s, you might want to wear sunglasses because they could be the brightest team in the nation.

Tennessee fans have every reason to believe that their team has a chance to upset the SEC’s top teams in the upcoming season, even though Heupel will need to make sure he has enough offensive support. Participants who

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