2023 five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava committed to the Tennessee Vols on Monday, giving UT head coach Josh Heupel a signature recruiting win.

Iamaleava committed to the Vols over Alabama, Georgia, Miami, Ole Miss, and Oregon.

Tennessee won this battle for a couple of reasons. For starters, UT’s coaches did a really good job of building a great relationship with Iamaleava.

Another reason the Vols won the recruiting battle was because of the Tennessee fan base. The Vol faithful showed a lot of love to Iamaleava — via social media before his commitment and during his recent visit to Knoxville.

Iamaleava has noted on several occasions that the love from Tennessee fans meant a lot to him and his family.

Another factor that went into the Vols winning this battle is that Alabama and Georgia have both been primarily recruiting 2023 five-star quarterback Arch Manning, the nephew of Tennessee legend Peyton Manning.

If Alabama and Georgia had Nico as their top priority, I think this recruiting battle is far from settled.

Heupel and the Vols chose not to pursue Manning and instead put all of their focus on landing Iamaleava.

And by doing so, they may have actually got the better player, even though Manning is ranked higher.

247Sports recruiting analyst Greg Biggins spoke to GoVols247 this week about Iamaleava and he pointed out that Tennessee’s newest commit might have the most upside of any quarterback in the 2023 recruiting class.

“For me, I think they’re getting a kid who probably has the most upside of any quarterback in this class,” said Biggins.

The recruiting analyst pointed out that Iamaleava hasn’t been able to focus solely on football due to also being a high-level volleyball player.

“He’s always been a multi-sport guy,” said Biggins. “He’s never really been a spring-practice guy because he’s an elite volleyball player. I mean, he’s a legitimate, national team-level volleyball player, so the fact that he’s at where he’s at right now without anywhere near the training of most quarterbacks is insane.”

Beyond the physical abilities, Iamaleava is also a tremendous leader.

“I mean, he is a phenomenal kid,” noted Biggins. “There’s not an ounce of primadonna or arrogance to him. He’s like a natural leader. Everybody loves him. He’s always smiling — just a really solid, well-rounded kid, great leader.”

When you combine that upside and those leadership traits, it’s easy to see how Iamaleava might be a bit underrated.

I don’t want to take anything from Manning — he is, by all accounts, a tremendous person and an incredible football player. Manning is as advertised. But I think there’s a decent chance he got the ratings bump over Iamaleava because of his last name.

Tennessee, of course, doesn’t care if Iamaleava is rated above Manning or not. They believe in Nico’s ability to be an elite quarterback in the SEC.

Still, these two players are going to be connected to each other while they’re in college. They’ll be constantly compared.

It’ll be interesting to see which one emerges as the better NFL prospect.

Arch has the name. But Nico might have the better skills.

Either way, Iamaleava could be the biggest commit Tennessee’s landed since Peyton walked onto campus nearly 30 years ago.

Featured image via Rivals.com