Tennessee QB Joe Milton III to skip Citrus Bowl for NFL draft


The Nico Iamaleava era is set to begin at Tennessee in the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl, as starting quarterback Joe Milton III has opted out of the Sunday matchup with Iowa.

Milton, a fifth-year senior, announced Wednesday on social media that he was skipping the game to begin preparing for the NFL draft and thanked his coaches, teammates and fans.

“Thanks Vol Nation for everything. JoJo out,” Milton posted, adding that he would be in Orlando, Florida, supporting the team this week.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper ranks Milton as the 10th-best quarterback in the 2024 NFL draft.

This will be Iamaleava’s first meaningful action for the Vols after he played in four games this season in mop-up duty. The 6-6, 206-pound Iamaleava was ranked as the No. 4 pocket passer nationally by ESPN out of Long Beach, California. He has been on campus for a year after arriving as an early enrollee and participating in practice for the Orange Bowl last December.

Iamaleava is still eligible for a redshirt season. The bowl game does not count against the redshirt minimum of four games.

Milton closes out his college career after three seasons at Tennessee. He was the backup to Hendon Hooker for two seasons before stepping in as the starter this year. He passed for 2,813 yards with 20 touchdowns and five interceptions in leading the Vols to an 8-4 record. Milton started his career at Michigan before transferring to Tennessee.

“Playing inside Club Neyland was amazing – the energy, the noise and especially Running Through the T,” Milton said in his Instagram post. “I’m going to miss it all.”

Tennessee fans have been eager to see Iamaleava in meaningful action ever since he announced he was signing with the Vols. Coach Josh Heupel has said that Iamaleava’s arm strength allows him to make every throw and that his feel inside the pocket is equally impressive. Iamaleava was also an outstanding volleyball player in high school and has the athleticism to extend plays with his legs.

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