Joe Milton has been a ‘big brother’ to Nico Iamaleava since arrival at Tennessee

On3 imageby:On3 Staff Report03/23/23

As Tennessee gets underway in spring practice all eyes are on the quarterback position following the departure of Hendon Hooker. Luckily the Volunteers have one veteran in Joe Milton who has served as a ‘big brother’ to five-star prospect Nico Iamaleava since his arrival.

And Milton’s advice for young players should only make Iamaleava more comfortable as he gets settled in with the Volunteers.

“Go make mistakes. It’s football,” Milton said. “At the end of the day it’s football. Nico comes to me every night, right after meetings, he asks me questions about the script. I’m willing to help any way I can. That’s just me, personally.

“But for any freshman in the country, it doesn’t have to be just for Tennessee, go make a mistake. You never know what’s going to happen. Keep being you. It’s not like high school, things (are) sped up but at the same time it’s football. Go learn what you need to learn and do what you need to do.”

Asked to provide a quick assessment of Nico Iamaleava since his Tennessee arrival, Milton has glowing reviews for the freshman.

“He’s very impressive. He’s intelligent,” Milton said. “He wants to understand what’s going on. He don’t want to be out there and just have his head on a swivel all day. He wants to understand what’s going on. He wants to know everything I know, so I help him out.”

At a position where understanding is paramount, that’s terrific news for Tennessee. Transitions tend to work best when there is a passing down of knowledge from veterans to youngsters.

Joe Milton emerging as a veteran leader

Milton hasn’t gotten his own time in the spotlight just yet, but judging by the reaction of the Tennessee players around him, he’s ready for it.

“Yeah, Joe’s been great. Like a big brother to me when I first came here,” Iamaleava said. “Really just ralling all the troops around us, getting everybody to buy into what he’s trying to build and what the team’s trying to build. Yeah, Joe’s been great for me and a great big brother to me.”

The one thing Milton continues to stress, over and over to Nico Iamaleava at Tennessee, is to keep asking questions. Keep trying to find out why Tennessee does certain things the way it does.

The sooner that understanding comes the quicker the game will slow down. And there’s no doubt Iamaleava has the physical tools to be great once that happens.

“I mean he for sure can throw the ball, that’s one thing,” Milton said. “But also just his willingness to learn. I always told Nico when he first got here, any question, that’s not a dumb question. Ask me whatever you want, I’ve been through it all. I’ve been through adversity twice. Just ask me whatever you want. That goes for anybody on the team, just ask me whatever you want. I may not have the answer, but I really may have the answer just because I’ve been through a lot.”