They have Nico. One of the first major quarterback dominoes of 2023 fell Monday afternoon, moving away from Alabama and toward Tennessee.
The volunteers landed Nicholaus Iamaleava, the 6-foot-5, 195-pound 5-star. Most recruiting analysts consider Iamaleava to be one of the key talents in the position in a particularly fraught class. Tennessee went all out to take the number 7 in the country, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
His visits were: well documented while Knoxville rallied around its highest-rated prospect among the center in 20 years. After a junior season with 33 touchdowns and a state title, Iamaleava was one of seven quarterbacks Alabama offered.
The others uncommitted: Arch Manning, Eli Holstein, Dylan Lonergan and Marcel Reed. Notably, Holstein was in Tuscaloosa in early March for Junior Day before disembarking from Texas A&M on March 18.
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Alabama, Georgia, Oregon and Miami made up the rest of Iamaleava’s finalists, which he announced last week. Sports Illustrated recruiting director John Garcia Jr. told AL.com in February that the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs were likely waiting for Manning, the country’s top prospect, before moving elsewhere.
Volunteer head coach Josh Heupel and Joey Halzle were able to build a relationship with Iamaleava in the meantime. The 36-year-old quarterback’s coach grew up 55 miles from Long Beach, California, Iamaleava’s hometown.
Iamaleava received 24 offers for football, but also some for volleyball. The dynamic skills are easy to see on tape.
From Garcia Jr.: “The activity he displays in the bag, with enough movement prowess to be effective out there, is staggering. The overall athleticism is combined with the unparalleled arm strength that few prospects can duplicate, even at the collegiate level. …Now there’s some extra shine to be had with Iamaleava’s mechanics, especially in how he sometimes handles the football, but most can be corrected even before he sets foot on an SEC campus next year.”
Alabama currently has two recruits in the class of 2023 in five-star corner Jahlil Hurley and four-star legacy safety Elliot Washington.
Nick Alvarez is a reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @nick_a_alvarez or email it to NAlvarez@al.com†