The Biggest and Most Notable NIL Deals in College Football so Far
As the clock struck midnight and calendar moved to July 1, the name, image and likeness era officially began for college athletes.
Many of college football's biggest names—including Miami's D'Eriq King, North Carolina's Sam Howell and Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux—immediately cashed in. Among a variety of revenue sources for players, they signed endorsement deals with local or regional businesses.
And football fans have closely been following the money.
In some cases, we know the value of these sponsorships. Since most NIL deals do not have a reported dollar amount, several of these deals are more notable than confirmed as lucrative. Either way, they've provided an exciting start to this long-awaited era.
Bryce Young, Alabama
To be honest, Nick Saban played this one perfectly.
While at the Texas High School Coaches Association's annual convention, per The Athletic, Saban noted quarterback Bryce Young is nearing the $1 million mark in sponsorships.
"Our quarterback already has approached ungodly numbers—I'm not going to say what they are—and he hasn't even played yet. Hasn't even started," Saban said. "... It's almost seven figures. And it's like, the guy hasn't even played yet. But that's because of our brand."
Young's only known partnership is with Cash App, so it's unclear how close exactly he is to $1 million.
Saban, though, wisely put the Alabama program in the NLI headlines with his comments. And that was entirely the goal.
Bo Nix, Auburn and Malachi Moore, Alabama
Who says you can't play both sides?
Based in Alabama, Milo's Sweet Tea ensured it catered to both programs in the Iron Bowl rivalry. Auburn quarterback Bo Nix announced his partnership with Milo's on July 1, and Alabama defensive back Malachi Moore followed suit on July 2.
"Yes, we love a quarterback," Milo's said in a social media post revealing Moore as an endorser. "But you know that we're a divided family, right?"
Moore, who intercepted Nix in the 2020 matchup, has early bragging rights in this off-field partnership.
Myles Brennan and Derek Stingley Jr., LSU
LSU quarterback Myles Brennan and cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. are loading up on sponsorships with food chains.
Brennan posted that he'll be endorsing national brand Smoothie King and Baton Rouge restaurant Small Sliders. Stingley, who is viewed as a likely early first-round selection in the 2022 NFL draft, shared he'll be working with Walk-On's.
Stingley's father offered some insight about why the cornerback signed with a marketing agency to manage his deals.
"I don't want to put it all on his plate," Derek Stingley Sr. said, per Brooks Kubena of The Advocate. "This is not why he's playing college football. We're not looking for him to get these choices nonstop, every day, all day. What's important for him is to go out there and be accountable for his teammates and win games."
D'Eriq King and Bubba Bolden, Miami
D'Eriq King and Bubba Bolden are critical pieces of the Miami roster in 2021. Now, they're also teammates off the field.
ESPN's Jordan Schultz reported the quarterback and safety both signed a $20,000 deal with College Hunks Hauling Junk, a moving service headquartered in Tampa, Florida.
According to Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated, King has a simple plan for the money: Save it.
King has several other notable NLI-related activities, including a venture with Florida State quarterback McKenzie Milton. They co-founded Dreamfield, an NLI-focused company that intends to book live events—such as autograph signings and speaking engagements—for college athletes.
Miami Hurricanes Football
King and Bolden aren't the only Hurricanes with NLI deals. In fact, nearly every single one could have a sponsorship.
Gary Ferman of Rivals reported all of Miami's scholarship players can receive $500 per month to endorse American Top Team, a nationwide chain of MMA training gyms. If every player opts in, per Ferman, the total sponsorship cost would be $540,000.
"I hope other companies look at that and see, 'Wow, there is a benefit for this,'" American Top Team founder Dan Lambert said, per Declan Walsh of the Palm Beach Post. "This isn't just trying to support the team, which is a very noble position, but there's also a benefit to it. It's good for both sides."
Sam Howell, North Carolina and D.J. Uiagalelei, Clemson
Bojangles, a popular fast-food chain in the South, quickly added a couple of Carolina quarterbacks.
In a press release, the company announced North Carolina's Sam Howell and Clemson's D.J. Uiagalelei as endorsers. They'll be "making appearances on behalf of Bojangles and sharing content on their personal social media account," the release said.
Uiagalelei is off to a great start as a spokesman, too. He noted the area is serious about three things: Jesus, football and Bojangles.
Howell said he'll also be using the partnership with Bojangles as a way to support TABLE, a non-profit organization that supports and feeds children in Orange County, North Carolina.
Kayvon Thibodeaux, Oregon
Along with D'Eriq King, McKenzie Milton and many others in the future, Kayvon Thibodeaux has a non-fungible token (NFT) deal. The short version? An NFT is a collectible digital asset that stores information, which a buyer then owns after purchase.
Thibodeaux collaborated with Nike co-founder Phil Knight and shoe designer Tinker Hatfield for the artwork.
Most notably, Knight—an Oregon alum and well-documented enormous donor—figured out a path for Nike to support Oregon athletes without having a player endorse its products.
But that's not all for Thibodeaux. Sports lawyer Darren Heitner reported the Oregon edge-rusher also has secured a six-figure memorabilia deal for the 2021 season.
Thibodeaux seems to have lined up a strong financial start for himself even before hearing his name called in the 2022 NFL draft.