Fact or Fiction: Tennessee has the edge for Nico Iamaleava

Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney and national recruiting analysts Adam Friedman and Ryan Wright along with austin price from Volquest.com tackle three topics and determine whether they believe each statement is FACT or FICTION.

1. Colin Simmons would be a top-five prospect in the 2023 class.

Colin Simmons (Rivals.com)

Gorney’s take: FACTS It would be very difficult to displace any of the top five prospects in the 2023 class but Colin Simmons is really special. He already looks college-ready and would absolutely be in the conversation for a top-five spot in a class ahead of him. The Duncanville, Texas, prospect is so incredibly fast and explosive off the edge that he’s creating pressure or sacking the quarterback before he can even fully get into his drop from him. When he’s not wrapping up, Simmons is chasing people around, causing havoc and dominating. It’s hard to believe he’s only a sophomore.

Friedman’s take: FICTION. Simmons is an outstanding prospect and I’m excited to learn more about him through this rankings cycle but, with what I’ve seen so far, I don’t think I’d put him in the top five if he were in the 2023 class. Simmons is an outstanding rush end right now but I’d rank Arch Manning, David Hicks, Malachi Nelson, Cormani McClain and Brandon Inniss ahead of him. Manning and Nelson, the two quarterbacks, are special and so is McClain at cornerback. Inniss is so refined and looks like an immediate contributor at the next level. Hicks is a grown man on the defensive line and it will be interesting to see how he’s developed this offseason. Simmons wouldn’t make my top five if he were in the 2023 class but it would be close.

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2. After his Tennessee visit, the Vols have a slight edge in Nico Iamaleava’s recruitment.

Nico Yamaleava

Nico Yamaleava

Gorney’s take: FACTS I’ll say this – more visits will happen and things could definitely change because Alabama and Georgia will be contenders in the SEC, Oregon is going to play a major role here and others could slide in the mix, too. But the Tennessee visit was huge for Nico Iamaleava as comfort, play style and love from the fan base and coaching staff are going to be factors he considers along with NIL potential. I’ve been told by numerous people now that playing in the SEC is a major draw but I think the Ducks are also very much in this because of the Nike considerations. We will see. Tennessee absolutely did everything possible to convince Iamaleava it was the right spot. I’ll give the Vols the slightest edge right now with the caveat more trips could sway his opinion of him.

Price’s take: FICTION. It’s not that I think Tennessee is in a bad shape because I think they are in as good of a position as they could be in leaving the weekend. I just know with more trips to come including a return trip to Knoxville in April, Iamaleava and his recruitment of him will have plenty of marinating left to do. For the last several months people around Nico have told me they prefer to play in the SEC. That message hasn’t changed and thus Tennessee has that feather in its cap. When you spend three-plus days in Knoxville, it screams Tennessee is a real threat to land Nico.



3. There is a real chance five-star WR Brandon Inniss could meet with Lincoln Riley at USC.

Brandon Inniss

Brandon Inniss (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Gorney’s take: FACTS I’ve heard that Alabama and Ohio State could have the edge in Inniss’ recruitment but this weekend’s visit to USC is going to be huge. There could be some reservations about distance but those could be overcome with a big weekend in Los Angeles where Inniss will visit with USC and play in the Pylon tournament. Inniss loved the plan for him at Oklahoma and of course in lincoln riley‘s offense. If that could be once again sold to him – along with other factors – then the Trojans absolutely could be a leading contender after the trip.

Wright’s take: FACTS There was a sweet three-month period for Oklahoma and then-Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley knowing Inniss was coming. The move for Riley from Norman to Los Angeles prompted Inniss’ decommitment in November but did not shake his feelings for Riley and his offense from him. Inniss was once sold on Riley’s ability to showcase his skills, helping pave a path to the NFL. Now the Trojans’ coaching staff has to sell the Rivals100 prospect on the benefits of doing it in the Pac-12.


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