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College football analyst makes strong statement about Nico Iamaleava's approach to NIL deals




Tennessee Vols quarterback Nico Iamaleava's name is synonymous with NIL thanks to his own lucrative NIL deal that was at the center of an NCAA inquiry earlier this year (which led to a temporary injunction that prevents the NCAA from currently enforcing NIL rules).


Iamaleava's status as a former five-star recruit and as the starting quarterback at Tennessee comes with significant earning power.


Essentially, there are no shortage of NIL opportunities for Iamaleava. He could seemingly earn an endless amount of cash thanks to those opportunities.


But according to On3's JD Pickell, who recently spent some time speaking to folks at Tennessee about the football program, that's not where Iamaleava's focus is as he transitions into the starting quarterback role at UT this offseason.




"The thing that I'm most encouraged by when it comes to the makeup of who Nico is, is what he has between the ears," said Pickell on Wednesday. "This is a guy who very easily, in the day and age of social media and visibility of athletes, he could take all of that, wrap his arms around it and just amplify his own image, amplify that hype and feed into it. He hasn't done any of that.


"In fact, talking to folks yesterday at Tennessee, they told me that he's actually done his best to downplay all of that. He's not trying to jump at every single opportunity to be in front of a camera and tweet something out and juice his own NIL valuation. Nico is very happy to just let it all come to him, play the long game, and focus on the main thing which is, of course, football."


The ability for college athletes to earn money from their name, image, and likeness is long overdue.


But at the same time, it's easy to see how NIL deals can be a distraction for some players. There are only so many hours in a day. And NIL is something that can take up a significant amount of time -- especially for players who are constantly seeking out opportunities.


Nico seems to have a good balance, though, when it comes to NIL deals. He's willing to utilize NIL, but it's not his main focus. Instead, that focus is on winning football games. And I'm sure he knows that if he wins game and plays at a high level at Tennessee, then the NIL stuff will more than take care of itself.


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