OutKick 360’s Chad Withrow held an exclusive interview with 5-star prospect and new Tennessee Vols quarterback, Nico Iamaleava.
Withrow chatted with Iamaleava (ee-ah-mah-lee-ah-vuh) to discuss his outlook on heading to Knoxville, and what he expects in the coming season under head coach Josh Heupel.
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CW: What was it about Josh Heupel and this staff, the offensive staff specifically, that you were drawn to throughout this process that eventually led to this commitment?
Nico: I got to sit down with all three coaches and go through what their offense was about. They basically broke down my film; they broke down Hendon Hooker’s film.
We got to see what they did with Hooker his first year at Tennessee compared to his last two seasons with Virginia Tech. … Showing me how the offense works and what they’ve done with their past guys.
CW: In talking to Coach Heupel, does he talk a lot about his playing days? What’s it like to talk to a guy who’s done it at the position you’re gonna be playing?
Nico: It’s definitely great. It’s good to get some experience from a national champ. He doesn’t go too far back, but he does talk about winning a championship. Just him bringing how to win a championship in Tennessee is great for the program.
CW: In his first year, he showed that whatever Tennessee fans expected about the offense, it was much better than expected.
From a football standpoint, when you see that level of production and you’re going into this, how much envisioning do you do of your role in that offense and different things you can do within a fast-paced offense like what coach Heupel runs in Tennessee?
Nico: I see a lot of good things; I see a lot of potential with this offense. I think it can go far … I’m just glad I got my commitment, and I’m happy.
CW: What has that process been like for you in terms of reaching out to guys? Are there gonna be guys who are gonna go on some visits with you to Knoxville in the upcoming weeks or months?
Nico: It’s been fun, I get to build new relationships with a lot of the top players within the 2023 class. A lot of players hit me up after I dropped my commitment. I think it’s gonna be fun, just recruiting some guys and seeing how different personalities work from different parts of the country. This whole process has been fun.
CW: Have you had a chance to talk with Peyton Manning yet? … What do you think when you hear the comparison of the day you committed with the day that Peyton Manning announced for Tennessee?
Nico: It’s crazy. I haven’t met with Peyton yet. I look forward to seeing him next time I head back to Knoxville … learn new things from him.
CW: Who are some guys you really admire the way they play, and you maybe take some things from their game and how they play the quarterback position?
Nico: I watch every quarterback in the league. I pretty much take whatever I like and see if I can add it to my game.
My favorite QB in the league is Josh Allen; I think he’s the best quarterback in the league. Him and Tom Brady I’d say are the two guys I watch most. … My comparison may be Josh Allen.
CW: Do you enjoy that part of your game, the ability to pick up some yards with your feet? I know you’re a pass-first guy, but is that something that you enjoy within your game?
Nico: It’s definitely something I enjoy; feels like rugby again. I’m really a pass-first guy, but if I have to, I love running the ball.
Watch the full interview here: