The Impact on NIL in College Football

With the Name, Image, and Likeness NIL laws passing through college athletics, it has been a hot topic to think about how this changes the traditional college model, and the thoughts on this topic are ever-evolving as new things happen. Just last week, a bombshell was dropped on the high school and college football world when the #1 overall prospect in the class of 2022, Quinn Ewers, announced that he would reclassify to 2021 and enroll at Ohio State immediately following the completion of a summer class. 

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This was wild for a few reasons, but it all stems from NIL. Ewers played his high school ball at Southlake Carroll in Texas. This is a big deal in Texas because Southlake was in the state championship last year and was expected to return for one more shot with Ewers at the helm. Now that will never come to fruition, and a football-hungry state like Texas really doesn’t appreciate that, especially because of why Ewers left.

In Texas, high school students don’t fall under the NIL laws, meaning that they cannot make money off of their name, image, or likeness. Ewers was a big target of multiple companies when these laws were announced, and it is rumored that Ewers was looking at having to turn down around one million dollars in endorsements. Weeks later, Ewers said in a report by Pete Thamel that he is considering reclassifying and going to Ohio State to take advantage of these offers. 

This seemed like a public move by a star player to attempt to strongarm Texas legislation to work on a bill, but that went nowhere fast, and Ewers recently did announce he was reclassifying to 2021, meaning he’ll be at Ohio State in a week or so. 

Today, we got reminded why Ewers made this move with his first ad on his Twitter page featuring Holy Kombucha. This was such a weird sighting for someone who may or may not have graduated high school at this point, especially considering the money likely seen on the backend by Ewers, but it will become the new norm. One thing to monitor is the willingness of legislation to move on getting these rules at the high school level, so we don’t see chaos with talented young players transferring schools to accept an ad deal for a local car company as the reigning player of the state. 

As for the impact this decision has on football, it is obviously a hit to an elite high school team that did rely on Ewers to elevate them to state championship level. It also causes a few issues with the Buckeyes since they already have 5-star QBs in the 2020 and 2021 recruiting classes. Now Ewers joins a top 15 player in the class of 2021, Kyle McCord, meaning one of the two will likely have to go elsewhere to play at some point in their career. Ewers will want to play, but this year will almost assuredly be more about his development than him playing this season. 

D’Eriq King went public with another deal today as someone that seems to have embraced the NIL rules and used them to his advantage. King was one of the first players to announce deals when the law went into effect, and he hasn’t slowed down since, doing something that was out of left field, even in an industry that is so new. King signed with the Florida Panthers as an “FLA Athlete.” The Panthers described King as a superstar on and off of the field and said they are excited to sign deals with prominent athletes in southern Florida. 

The use cases on NIL and its impact are expanding by the day, and it is fun to hypothesize what is next. Coaches and players will have to be on their toes to navigate these new waters moving forward.

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