Joe Milton's Citrus Bowl Opt-Out Paves the Way for Nico Lam.
Joe MiltonTennessee QB Joe Milton

We are on the brink of an exciting clash between #21 Tennessee Volunteers, led by Joe Milton, and #17 Iowa in the highly anticipated Cheez-It Citrus Bowl. In the dynamic landscape of college football, it’s not uncommon for players, including stars like Joe Milton, to opt out of bowl games for various reasons—a trend that has become more prevalent in recent years.


As the clock ticks down to kick-off, the spotlight turns to Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton, who has decided not to suit up for Monday’s game. The redshirt senior recently declared his intention to enter the 2024 NFL Draft, signaling a significant shift for the Volunteers.

Joe Milton’s Opt-Out Decision

Milton’s absence opens the door for true freshman Nico Iamaleava, a former five-star recruit, to make his first career start. This unexpected turn of events, influenced by Milton’s decision, adds a layer of intrigue to an already electrifying matchup.

Nico Iamaleava’s First Career Start

Despite Joe Milton’s absence on the field, his presence remains palpable as he stands on the sidelines in Orlando, a testament to his leadership qualities. Head Coach Josh Heupel commended Milton for his commitment throughout his career, highlighting his positive influence on the program.

Joe Milton’s Continued Involvement

Heupel spoke highly of Joe Milton’s contributions, emphasizing Milton’s role in supporting Iamaleava during the game. Milton’s experience and insights are expected to play a crucial role in guiding the young quarterback through the challenges of a starting role.

Coach Heupel’s Reflection on Milton’s Career

Nico Iamaleava
Nico Iamaleava

Reflecting on Joe Milton’s career, Heupel praised the quarterback’s decision to stay with the team, demonstrating belief in the collective vision of teammates and coaching staff. Milton’s journey, marked by growth and impactful moments, has left an indelible mark on the Tennessee football program.

Nico Iamaleava’s Performance Overview

Turning our attention to Iamaleava, the young quarterback showcased his skills in four games this season. With a completion rate exceeding 61% and notable passing statistics, Iamaleava, under the influence of Joe Milton, has generated anticipation among fans who have eagerly awaited his chance to lead the team.

The Long-Awaited Nico Iamaleava Era

Since Iamaleava committed to UT in March 2022, fans have been eagerly awaiting the moment when the young talent, influenced by Milton’s legacy, would take center stage. The wait is finally over as Iamaleava steps into the spotlight, signaling a new era for Tennessee football.

Camping World Stadium Kickoff

For those eagerly waiting to witness this transition, the kickoff at Camping World Stadium is set for 1 p.m. on Monday. As the Volunteers, influenced by the absence of Joe Milton, embark on this exciting journey, the football world will be watching with bated breath.


In conclusion, Milton’s opt-out decision has paved the way for Nico Iamaleava’s much-anticipated debut as a starting quarterback. Joe Milton’s continued involvement and Coach Heupel’s reflections underscore the significance of this moment. As the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl unfolds, the Tennessee Volunteers are poised for a thrilling game that marks the beginning of the Nico Iamaleava era.


  1. Q: Why did Joe Milton opt out of the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl?

    Ans: Joe Milton opted out to prepare for the 2024 NFL Draft.

  1. Q: Who is replacing Joe Milton in the Citrus Bowl?

    Ans: True freshman Nico Iamaleava, in the wake of Milton’s decision, is set to make his first career start.

  1. Q: How has Nico Iamaleava performed in previous games?

    Ans: Iamaleava, influenced by Milton’s leadership, has shown promise, completing over 61% of his passes with 163 yards and a touchdown in four games.

  1. Q: What impact has Joe Milton had on the Tennessee football program?

    Ans: Through his leadership, Joe Milton has been praised for his positive influence on and off the field.

  1. Q: When is the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl kickoff?

    Ans: The kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Monday at Camping World Stadium.

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