Heupel, Knoxville atmosphere sold five-star QB Yamaleava on Flights | Utah

It had been 20 years since the Tennessee Volunteers signed a five-star quarterback.

While James Banks had a less than memorable stint with UT, the Vols have high hopes for recent signing Nico Yamaleava, the No. 4-ranked quarterback in the nation and No. 7 overall rookie in the promotion. 2023, according to 247Sports composite rankings.

Tennessee must now keep Yamaleava, which has 24 offers from schools including Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Ohio State and Oregon, among others, committed until to the early signing period in December.

He would only be the third five-star QB to commit to the Vols, joining Banks in 2002 and Casey Clausen in 2000, and he would also be UT’s highest-rated signing since offensive lineman Kahlil McKenzie in 2015. .

In a recent maintenance with 247Sports, Yamaleava cited UT coach Josh Heupel’s ability to coach and develop top-tier quarterback prospects, including Sam Bradford, Landry Jones and McKenzie Milton, made him lean towards the Flights.

“A big thing with Tennessee is the development at quarterback and the friendliness of offense,” Yamaleava said. “Josh Heupel is a great offensive-minded coach and has worked with some really good quarterbacks in the past. Coach (quarterback) (Joey) Halzle and (offensive coordinator Alex) Golesh are great guys too, and we talked about adjusting the scheme, and I think I could have a lot of success there… I have a lot of confidence that they could develop me too.”

Yamaleava made his first visit to Tennessee on November 27. He then returned with his family on March 5, according to 247Sports, and he plans to visit campus again on April 9.

When he last visited Knoxville, fans chanted “we want Nico” during UT’s basketball game against Arkansas. The warm welcome made a strong impression on the 6-foot-5, 195-pound caller.

“We talk about Knoxville being a destination location for players,” Heupel said. “…It’s an exciting time to be here. We have a lot of energy and momentum inside the building. It’s one of the best things about being able to bring them to campus, a difference from a year ago. They’re actually able to see and feel the energy and the connection that we have as players and coaches together and that’s been a big part of the selling point of who we are and what we do and where we go as a program.”

Hendon Hooker and Joe Milton are both in their final seasons of eligibility. Tennessee has just three QBs expected to be on its roster next season — four-star rookie Tayven Jackson, second-ranked Navy redshirt Shuler and second-placed Gaston Moore. Yamaleava and Jackson could fight for the starting job of the Vols in 2023.

Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_

Comments are closed.