The future of the quarterback position at the University of Tennessee has been Nico Iamaleava since he verbally committed on March 21, 2022. The Long Beach native has all the tools required to elevate a college offense and have his program contending for important goals, but in his redshirt freshman season, he may need help to get things rolling in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Part of the Vols' recruiting pitch to Iamaleava was that they could effectively communicate his presence to players and build a strong system around him. We've been talking about his impact on recruits and what Tennessee can use to build, but the program's brand is also strong enough to factor into that pitch. Prospects already want to play at Tennessee, and playing with Iamaleava is an excellent bonus.
Roster construction is the No. 1 thing in college football currently, and Tennessee can improve a lot next season if they set the table right for Iamaleava. They have some of the answers in-house, and for others, they must look elsewhere. I lay out three important subplots that will be determined in the next few weeks that could affect the next calendar year for Tennessee and Iamaleava.
There's been speculation floating around that running back Dylan Sampson could opt to enter his name into the transfer portal. Though there have been a few cryptic social media posts from Sampson throughout the season, his best 2023 opportunity is likely in Knoxville, Tennessee. He could enter next year as the lead back of a team that just produced its first 1,000-yard rusher since 2015. Sampson is a physical runner with a strong burst and hits the corner well. He's also a capable receiving threat out of the backfield who could see a bunch of targets from Iamaleava if he opts to stay.
Senior wide receiver Bru McCoy was on pace for another productive season before he suffered a season-ending ankle injury against South Carolina. McCoy was Tennessee's best early-season target in a system emphasizing timing and chemistry overall at the wide receiver position. His NFL Draft stock may be down, as evaluators probably want to see what another healthy year looks like for him on Rocky Top.
Five-star offensive tackle Jordan Seaton is the No. 1 recruit left on Tennessee's board. The uncommitted talent reset his recruitment a few months ago and has been high on the Vols since. Tennessee's No. 1 selling point on the recruiting trail is consistent communication, and Seaton seems to enjoy that. Alabama and Oregon are the two primary teams up at the top of his recruitment alongside Tennessee, with Florida creeping in. The 6-5 and 287-pound tackle would compete for reps in camp, with Miami offensive tackle transfer John Campbell Jr. moving on to the professional ranks.
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