With the recent Quinn Ewers news, and some saying Travis Hunter Jr. should do the same, Chop Chat takes a look at the effects of the new NIL era on recruiting.
Every day now we hear about a big named college football player getting a new sponsorship deal in this wild, wild west of the name, image, and likeness, or “NIL”, industry.
Most recently, Bryce Young was recently praised by Nick Saban as someone who will roll in the dough to the tune of close to one million dollars. In this brave new world, clothing companies and sponsorships can influence “Johnny Five-Star’s” college decision, and people like Quinn Ewers are forgoing their senior season of high school to capitalize on their marketability.
The best way to contextualize the everchanging college sports landscape in the NIL era would be to talk to someone currently diving headfirst into this new paradigm, and figuring out their opportunities.
I spoke with Ray Desanto, who plays DII football Florida.
“I mostly see myself making money on social media because I like to post my workout videos and stuff. I do a lot of retweets on Twitter, and I post my college stuff. So I think social media would help me bring in more money and Tik Tok as well.”
The recent news on the nationwide name image and likeness restrictions opening up coincided with him going viral on Tik Tok and getting an early sponsorship for his Instagram page. All of this took place before he has played a down of college football.
“Well, I recently posted some videos at Crunch Fitness, and they got over 100,000 views, 15K likes, and if I can get 10,000 followers on there, I can start making money sooner or later,” Desanto said. It ended up being sooner.
However, had this happened while he was still being recruited, would it be different? There wouldn’t have been as many educated eyes on his profile, people like coaches, Desanto admitted, but he would have put a great value on fanbase interaction.
“If a bunch of fans are commenting on my videos and following me, I love that! I would definitely want to go there to a school where the fan base already knows who I am.”
This notion is something Desanto already considered while on his visit to his chosen school as the coach made a point to speak on the involvement of the local fan base.
“So like, when they see you in public, they know who you are, your name, where you’re from, because like, that’s kind of like your own little bubble. You know? So like the fans, they love you for who you are. And you know, you play football. So it’s like a good thing.”
These elements will all play into a kid’s decision. There is the go-to scenario where a college player is enlisted for an appearance at a local car dealership. That wouldn’t happen just everywhere and a devoted local fan base is a necessity.
I spoke with a college athletic director who said as much both about her programs and the local division one school. Saying it would be hard to see because of the size of the city and the competition they would have with the professional teams.
However, thankfully the marketplace has expanded from local options and players like Ray Desanto see a sizable market for them via social media platforms like Patreon, Instagram, Cameo, and Tik Tok.
“For right now, like, I think I could make $1000? Maybe?” said Desanto. “That’s a lot of money. That could pay for your books. I could pay for anything. I could pay for new sneakers. ‘You need some photos.’ You may need to pay some bills for your parents. I mean $1,000 could do a lot.”
The final element in this name, image, and likeness equation is the upcoming revitalization of the NCAA video game series. Both Desanto and the athletic director I spoke with talked about the representation of players and different schools as another way for college athletes to make money.
“If your team’s in a video game, and like, that’s a kid’s dream. He’s like, ‘Oh, it’s either I’m choosing Ohio State, or FSU, or a school that’s not on the video game,’ It’s an easy choice. But I want to be in a video game. Because you can make money off that like, you know, being in a video game yourself, your name, and all of that are sure all that’s super cool.”
Now, how this specifically relates to FSU football would be how they can use their NIL APEX platform in recruiting. They can sell their devoted fanbase and show proof of concept with various players as it comes up.
They could even show how involved the fanbase already is in recruiting the prospect as everyone sees the oceans of gifs in a player’s social media mentions.
FSU football seems to be set up the best as many current players are on the Dreamfield platform, and players are empowered by the school and its APEX structure, and there is already proof of concept as current players Grant Glennon and Amari Gainer are signed with Barstool Sports.
Desanto said as much.
“I think that would definitely play a role because FSU is a pretty well-known school. And if people are buying your t-shirts and they want you to stay/come, you know, like, if you’re a really good athlete, they’re going to do that even in high school level, they’ll give them gear and whatnot. That makes kids stay because they feel like they’re loved there and stuff like that.”
He still sees online monetary opportunities coming into effect as he suggests that most money will come from reposts, gaming sponsorships, and sponsorships from media companies like Barstool.
Should Desanto have had the opportunity, he revealed what would’ve appealed to him about FSU football in the NIL era.
“I’ve lived in Florida my whole life, like Tallahassee, that’s a big deal! Like everybody goes to the FSU games, like everybody. They get the season tickets and the fans are very involved. What else are you going to do on a Saturday when that’s where you live, you know. You want to go to have fun? Go to the game! Watch the boys play!”
It sounds like a college football program with a rabid fanbase could make a difference when it comes to where the best players ultimately sign.