Name, image, and likeness is revolutionizing college football. Finally, college athletes are (legally) able to make money for themselves rather than their hard work and sacrifice simply lining the pockets of the colleges that they so proudly represent. As NIL deals range from small change to sensational sums of cash, we take a look at the most valuable players and lucrative endorsements ahead of the 2022 college football season.
Top 10 NIL deals in 2022
Without a central regulatory body, NIL is currently something of a minefield. A large number of deals, even the biggest for the best athletes, carry undisclosed sums. As a result, ranking the top individual deals is a difficult business. Even the great Nick Saban couldn’t put an actual figure on the amount that Bryce Young had made in the opening months since his star quarterback had been allowed to profit from his name, image, and likeness.
High school quarterback and Miami Hurricanes commit Jaden Rashada is said to have signed the biggest NIL deal yet, with a $9.5 million deal. Again, details are sketchy. At Norfolk State, running back Rayquan Smith has at least 66 NIL deals. Smith calls himself the “King of NIL,” and while each individual deal is a drop in the ocean compared to the likes of Young and Rashada, his total value is reportedly close to six figures.
With a lack of deal-specific numbers, the list below details the most valuable college football players as per their NIL value according to On3.com. Where possible, we’ve included details of specific endorsements. As you can see, it pays to be an offensive skill player when it comes to making some money via NIL.
10) Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU
One of the top receivers in the nation, Kayshon Boutte has snagged 1,244 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in his two-year LSU career. This while only playing six games last fall due to injury.
According to On3.com, Boutte is worth an estimated $1.4 million or $100,000 for each of his LSU touchdowns. The 2023 NFL Draft prospect has a deal with Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys that includes an advert where he holds up a t-shirt with the logo “Get Your Lawyer” as the company gushes about Boutte getting it done on the field.
9) Jordan Addison, WR, USC
When Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison left Pittsburgh for USC via the transfer portal, many pointed the finger at NIL as one of the reasons for his departure.
The California university is well placed to maximize earning potential, and Addison is worth an estimated $1.4 million. He has NIL deals with Bowser Automotive and Tickets for Kids. Meanwhile, USC has a NIL collective and a third-party NIL body called “Student Body Right” which aims to pay USC players a base salary.
8) Quinn Ewers, QB, Texas
Graduating a year early from Southlake Carroll, the beautifully mulleted Quinn Ewers was the prize QB of the 2021 recruiting class. In many respects, he’s the poster boy for NIL success.
He never threw a ball in anger for Ohio State but pocketed $1.4 million from a deal with GTSM — a sports marketing company. Since transferring to Texas, he’s also penned deals with Austin Martin Dallas and Epic Games for undisclosed amounts. According to On3.com, Ewers’ current market value is $1.5 million and he’s still yet to play a down.
7) Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Considered one of the best players in college football who transcends the traditional value of his position, it’s no surprise to see Texas running back Bijan Robinson sitting upon the top 10 players in NIL valuation.
Worth an estimated $1.6 million, Robinson’s NIL deals range from media giant DAZN to Lamborghini Austin. His most recent deal, for an undisclosed amount, is with Rhoback — a clothing company that creates items designed to be worn during outdoor pastimes with the social media hashtag #craveactivity.
6) Will Anderson Jr., OLB, Alabama
Rhoback is becoming a major player in the NIL game, and alongside Robinson, they boast Alabama’s dominant EDGE Will Anderson Jr. As part of an estimated NIL value of $1.6 million, Anderson also has a tie-in with BMW of Tuscaloosa.
According to On3.com, Anderson’s outstanding performance on the field enables him to earn $2,000 per advertisement post on social media. His total value equates to just under $100,000 for each of his ludicrous 17½ sacks during the 2021 college football season.
5) Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Ohio State has been an early key player in the NIL game. Their collective — “The Foundation” — has brokered massive deals as part of the Buckeyes’ goal to bring in $13 million to their student athletes.
Star wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba has been a major recipient, with his latest tie-in with Designer Shoe Warehouse as part of a $550,000 deal. With additional collaborations with Subway, Ricart Automotive, Onyx Authenticated — and several more — JSN has an estimated NIL value of $1.7 million.
4) Spencer Rattler, QB, South Carolina
Do you want South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler to wish you a happy birthday? Maybe you’d like him to announce the draft order of your CFB fantasy league? Thanks to his tie-in with Cameo, for as little as $100, you can!
The polarizing QB, who first entered our living rooms in the Netflix documentary “QB1,” has multiple personal NIL deals. Meanwhile, the South Carolina NIL collective — Garnet Trust — has engineered deals with Blackwood for Men and Jim Hudson Chevrolet. Rattler currently has an estimated NIL value of $2 million.
3) Caleb Williams, QB, USC
Not content with deposing Rattler at Oklahoma, Caleb Williams has risen above him in the NIL valuation rankings following his transfer to USC. An example of the controversy surrounding NIL, Williams was reportedly offered $1 million by one school upon entering the transfer portal. His value has already outstripped that offer since arriving in Southern California.
With deals including Beats by Dre, Hawkins Way Capital, and Fanatics, Williams is worth an estimated $2.4 million. He’s also a part owner of a men’s grooming company.
2) C.J. Stroud, QB, Ohio State
As Young and C.J. Stroud get set to battle it out for QB1 honors in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Ohio State QB lags a little behind his opponent in NIL valuation. However, he probably doesn’t feel too bad about it sitting behind the wheel of his $150k Bentley received as part of his NIL deal with Sarchione Auto Gallery.
With two “The Foundation” engineered deals, plus several individual representations, Stroud has an estimated NIL value of $2.5 million. That’s just over $200k for each first-place vote in the 2021 Heisman Trophy race.
1) Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Before even setting foot on the field as the Alabama starter last fall, Young had already made over $800k thanks to NIL deals with Cash App, Onyx Authenticated, and multiple trading card companies. As he prepares for a quest to the CFB National Championship, Young has an estimated value of $3.2 million.
His gargantuan social media following and on-field success make him a marketing dream. To date, 12 companies have invested in Young with the Alabama QB adding NOBULL and Dollar Shave Club to his portfolio in August alone. We should expect some smooth and precise performances from the 2023 draft prospect this fall, leaving only his opponent irritated.