Tennessee football has secured its quarterback for the 2024 class. Nico Iamaleava now has some competition to start after Joe Milton III leaves.
Four-star prospect Jake Merklinger announced on Thursday he was committing to Tennessee over Georgia, Michigan State and North Carolina. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound quarterback attends Calvary Day High School in Savannah, Georgia.
Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports projected Merklinger to Tennessee football following his visit. The prospect spoke highly of the Vols.
“I’ve been talking to Tennessee for a while now,” he told 247Sports. “I have a good relationship with the coaches there from analysts to the head coach. They play in the SEC and they’re not only playing in the SEC but very successful in the SEC. They have a great fanbase and the quarterback development there speaks for itself to be honest with you.”
Tennessee hosted Merklinger over the weekend. He finished the 2022 season with 1,987 yards and 32 touchdowns on 97-for-145 passing with only two interceptions. He also ran for 283 yards and four touchdowns.
The No. 55 player nationally got to enjoy Tennessee baseball with Heupel and also take in spring practice. Merklinger sits as the No. 6 quarterback in his class.
Recruiting any quarterback, let alone a top guy like Merklinger in the 2024 class, will be tough for the Vols. With five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava highlighting the class of 2023, any quarterback coming in likely knows they will sit for at least two years before getting a chance to see the field.
That didn’t seem to matter for Merklinger, who pledged to the Vols. Merklinger visited Tennessee football three times last year and on Saturday.
He chose the Vols over North Carolina, Georgia and Michigan State.
Tennessee now has six commitments in the 2024 class with the addition of Merklinger. Four-star athlete Johnathan Echols, four-star wide receiver JJ Harrell, four-star cornerback Kaleb Beasley, four-star Marcus Goree Jr. and three-star defensive lineman Carson Gentle round out the rest of Tennessee’s class.
The Vols’ 2024 class ranks as No. 13 overall early in the cycle and No. 5 in the SEC but both will likely rise.