Detractors of 2023 five-star Tennessee Vols commit Nico Iamaleava like to suggest that because of his thin frame he isn’t a tough player.

And nothing could be further from the truth.

Iamaleava is a polished passer, but he’s also a physical runner.

Just watch him lower his shoulder at the 1:11 mark of this highlight video:

Iamaleava could’ve easily gone out of bounds before taking that hit — and in the SEC he probably should — but he showed he’s not afraid of contact.

That’s not a surprise to Iamaleava’s high school coach Kevin Pearson.

“When he first started playing, he started playing rugby,” said Pearson this season to The Athletic. “So he likes to mix it up. He’s running guys over,” Pearson said. “Literally, he never, ever goes down on first contact. People think he’s a skinny guy, but although he’s fit, he’s not skinny. He’s strong as heck. That kid is strong.”

Nico is going to be a special player for the Vols. The California native has ideal height, great arm strength, he’s smart, he’s physical, and he’s an elite leader. Basically, he’s everything you could want in a quarterback.

Tennessee is certainly going to miss Hendon Hooker on Rocky Top, but Iamaleava has Heisman Trophy potential and he’s more than capable of keeping the Vols in the national championship conversation in the coming seasons.

Featured image via Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK