Photo courtesy: Aaron Plunkett – CLA Sports
Five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava is back at Long Beach Poly after enrolling today, the Iamaleava family confirmed. Imaleava played for the Jackrabbits as a freshman before transferring to Warren for the last two pandemic-affected seasons. He arrives back at 1600 Atlantic as one of the top football players in the nation, a 6-6 phenom with scholarship offers from across the country, from Alabama to Tennessee to Oregon. Iamaleava is rated the No. 3 football recruit in the nation by 247 Sports, with a 98 overall rating to go with his five stars.
“I’m excited for sure,” said Iamaleava. “Finishing my career off in Long Beach, that was the ultimate goal for me. Just coming home for my senior year.”
Iamaleava’s younger brother, Madden, is a rising sophomore QB who recently received a scholarship offer from Tennessee. Both brothers are also highly-ranked volleyball players.
The Iamaleava’s older brother, Matt, graduated from Poly and is on the roster for the No. 1-ranked Long Beach State men’s volleyball team, and older sister Nicaylah graduated from Poly and plays for Cypress College.
The transfer is a significant one for Poly, as Iamaleava has picked the Jackrabbits over everyone–shucking the trend of big-name prep quarterbacks opting to funnel into private schools in Southern California over the last several years.
“We never looked at those private schools, I just really want to finish my high school career off in my hometown, Long Beach was always the ultimate goal,” said Nico.
Nic Iamaleava, the patriarch of the family, is excited for his son and for his hometown.
“This is about the city and coming back home,” he said. “It’s about giving back. He’s a Long Beach kid, he was born at St. Mary’s, I grew up down the street and he grew up right here. So here we are coming full circle–Nico wants to come home, he wants to make this right.”
In addition today’s news, Nic said that daughter McKenna Iamaleava, a middle school standout in the Mizuno Volleyball Club, will be a Jackrabbit as well in the coming years, the fifth of her siblings to compete in the sport at Poly.
“We’re excited, everyone’s been hunting us down at tournaments asking where Nico’s going,” said Nick. “Well, here we are.”
The transfers are an immediate profile boost to a Poly football program that has taken some significant steps forward in the last few seasons. The Jackrabbits dominated the CIF-SS Division 4 bracket last year en route to the program’s 20th CIF-SS championship, and return 18 starters from that team, including almost all linemen and several top-tier skill players, including likely All-American DB Daylen Austin.
Iamaleava was sharp last year for the Bears, throwing 33 touchdowns in just nine games. The Jackrabbits have historically boasted great skill and line players, but have very rarely had top-flight quarterback talent. The last two All-American QBs at Poly were Matt Corral and Chris Lewis, the only two Jackrabbits to receive that honor at the position in the last half-century.
With Iamaleava and returning junior QB Darius Curry, the Jackrabbits suddenly find themselves with multiple signal-callers carrying SEC offers, an unprecedented embarrassment of riches at the school. Poly is likely to draw national rankings and attention as they enter a highly-anticipated 2022 season.