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Vols QB Commit Iamaleavea Punches Ticket to Elite 11 Finals, Talks Peer Recruiting Efforts and More

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2023 Tennessee Volunteers quarterback commitment Nico Iamaleava competed today at the Elite 11 Regional in Nashville. Iamaleava and his family made the cross-country trip to compete, which resulted in a punched ticket to the prestigious Elite 11 Finals in June. Iamaleava talks about the competition, his peer recruiting efforts and more here with Volunteer Country.

"It was good," the California signal-caller said of his time at the event. "I think the first session went well, the second session is what got me. But we ended up finishing strong, and I feel like I did good."

The Elite 11 tours across the country, including an upcoming stop in Los Angeles, but a congested schedule led Iamaleava back to the Volunteer State to compete for his spot in the finals.

"Honestly, schedule's just busy and this is a free weekend we had open so we were like, might as well do it in the hometown," he said of competing in Nashville. "So, we decided to come home to Tennessee. For the LA one, I think I got volleyball that weekend, so I decided to come out here."

Iamaleava brings a competitive vibe to everything he does, so the opportunity to go to the Elite 11 is something he will be looking forward to in June.

"Yeah, it should be fun," he said of the opportunity. "That's my ticket to go compete with some of the top talent out there. Yeah, I look forward to it."

During the more than five hour training/competition session, each quarterback got individual instruction from former NFL quarterbacks and quarterback gurus, and they all left with something to take back home to work on.

"I'd say just a lot of the camp stuff," Iamaleava said of this. "I don't do too many camps, so a lot of the camp drills were new to me. But yeah I'd say just me going back to 3D QB, telling my coaches what they run at the Elite 11, and just running it over at my workout sessions. Definitely, something I wanna work on is play-action, and other stuff they had us doing at the camp. Overall I'd say I did a pretty good job."

The temperature on the playing surface was above 90 for the entirety of the event, and it was something each competitor, including Iamaleave had to adjust to. However, give the fact he is coming to Tennessee to play his college ball, he welcomed the idea of getting an early peek at the weather in the area.

"Definitely the humidity," he said of what stood out the most about the environment. "You guys said it was 90 out here, that 90 felt like 115. The humidity definitely different, I'll get used to it, but today was my first day out here, and we were out here for 5, 6 hours. I don't know how long it was, but we were out here for a long time in that humidity. I felt good after I got some hydration though. I'd say over here we got great weather, because if you go to Georgia or Bama, Bama it's hot. That was terrible, but we were only out there for 2 hours, so I didn't get to feel it as much. But here, it's bipolar like California. Got cold weather, hot weather sometimes. But overall I love the weather out here. 

Iamaleava will return to home to California tomorrow, but he will quickly return back to Tennessee to ramp his peer recruiting efforts up.

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"Memorial weekend I'll be back a lot of the other top guys I'm trying to bring in," he said of this." So I know Francis [Mauigoa] will be there Memorial Weekend, I just talked to him, so I'm just continuing to build this class, and it's going well."

Iamaleava and Mauigoa have been in frequent contact since the prized signal-caller committed to Tennessee earlier this year, and the visit will be an important one for Tennessee, who is surging in his recruitment currently. 

"I'd say he's been great," Iamaleava said of the relationship between the two. "Right after I dropped my commitment, my commitment video, Francis texted me "I'd love to come block for you at Tennessee." So already me and him have a great relationship, through the Polynesian bloodline, you know we're all family and stuff. I met him in Miami when I took my Miami visit, and we kicked it off over there, so it's been great. I've been pitching him the same thing."

Iamaleava's peer recruiting efforts do not stop there, though/

"One guy is Carnell [Tate], he's up here right now," he said of who he is recruiting the hardest. "I think he leaves today. Carnell, Francis, those two guys. Tony Mitchell, definitely one of those guys. Tausili Akana, he's from Utah, an outside backer, definitely a guy. There's a lot of guys out there that I can't name off top that are in my contacts, I call them every time, but there's a lot of guys out there."

Iamaleava and Tate have had several opportunities to connect since first meeting at the Vanderbilt game in November, and the relationship between the two has flourished since.

"It's grown heavy," Iamaleava said of this. "The first time I met him was the Vanderbilt game. We kicked it off right there, we wasn't real close then, but I'd say after that we linked again in Cali 7-on-7 tourney, so I got to see him again and that's where we really clicked before we went to Tennessee. After we went to Tennessee, that's when we already had that bond and everything. Now we continue to build, we facetime every now and then. I feel good about Carnell."

The message from Iamaleava to the nation's top receiver is to the point.

"I just pitch to him the opportunity we have at Tennessee," he said of this. "I think a lot of other colleges are already well-established, you know the Bamas and Georgias that already have national championships, and I think Tennessee we have the opportunity to build a class and hopefully bring a championship back. I bring that to him, and the city of Knoxville, I love Knoxville. Tennessee, I love Tennessee. I bring up the people to him. He loves the fans, he's seen the fans and how they are. So overall, it's really the opportunity we have."

Iamaleava knows how important the Memorial Day weekend visits will be, but he feels positive about the direction that Tennessee's recruiting class is heading.

"I think it's shaping up well. We just got Sylvester committed, so I think the whole class is shaping up well and guys are gonna want to come over and play for Tennessee. I'm excited for the future."