July 1, 2021, was considered by many the most important date in collegiate sports history. The landmark decision to allow student-athletes to earn off their name, image and likeness is one many believe is long overdue, but it is shaping to change the landscape of sports for years to come.
Within a few days, collegiate athletes have taken full advantage of an opportunity they have waited to materialize. If there is a poster child for the NIL generation, it would be quarterback D’Eriq King out of the University of Miami. Less than 24 hours after the new NIL rules were established, he signed four endorsement deals valuing $20,000. Arguably the most profitable player has been Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, who has cashed in nearly $1M worth of endorsement deals without playing a snap.
Who is the NIL generation? Instead of answering this question, we decided to ask various college football players on what the opportunity to benefit from their name, image and likeness meant to them and their future.
Rahsaan Lewis - Wide Receiver - Kentucky
"Honestly, it means a great deal! For years people have fought for this because it is our brand of who we are they helps so much in the collegiate world and makes so many people money but we couldn’t get paid but now I feel like it also helps you get ready for life and if you do make it to the next level because we are now a true and real brand as ourselves and there are so many great things that can come from it that are much more than just making money."
Alex Spillum - Safety - Coastal Carolina
"Yeah, I’ll try to do some stuff. It would obviously be easier if I was a quarterback or running back, but ima try to do something for sure. Maybe like T-shirts or something, I’m in talks with some people. I think it’s great. Long overdue."
Jonathan Patrick Jr. - Wide Receiver - UTEP
"It means I’m able to provide for myself off my own image and not just used for others financial gain anymore. I’m a business major and the previous rules made it difficult for me to do as much as I’d like to do business-wise. It's really a weight off our shoulders for most of us who want to be more than just athletes."
DeMarvion Overshown - Linebacker/Safety - Texas
"Yes, I will be participating and I feel that it is way overdue. It’s been so many all-time great college athletes do great things at their universities but couldn’t even make a dime from that money the college was making. And it’s such a small percentage of us that make it to the next level…it really helps people that don’t get that opportunity to make some money while they are here."
Dawand Jones - Offensive Line - Ohio State
"I feel like it’s a smart for the NCAA and the players. Some players come from nothing and having the opportunity to be able to get paid for just being liked by others it’s an honor and that’s me speaking for everybody. Personally for myself, though, it means a lot but my main focus is football, getting to Indy for the Big Ten and the National Championship I’ve worked my whole career for the opportunity can’t let it slip away. The NIL is like my second job, more of a business, I don’t try to ever let it take me away from the joy of the game. The opportunity is a success for me right now and I just hope to build on that."