On July 1, college athletes found themselves eligible to make money off of their name, image, and likeness, signing endorsement deals and more to finally begin profiting off of their followings and popularity while in school. For some, it just means being able to make a little money off of smaller deals, but for those who have created massive online followings or play at prominent positions at big programs, it has provided an opportunity for much greater earning potential.
Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, an incoming freshman who has yet to even step foot on the field for the Tide, has already racked up nearly seven figures in NIL deals, according to Nick Saban. That type of money is out there for big players and big programs, and because of it, top recruits suddenly find themselves with some interesting decisions to make as they aren’t afforded the same opportunities in high school.
Quinn Ewers could be the first to reach this crossroads, as the top recruit in the 2022 cycle is committed to Ohio State for next year, but is considering foregoing his senior season in Texas to enroll at Ohio State a year early because he too has close to a million dollars in NIL deals on the table right now. Ewers and his family spoke with Yahoo’s Pete Thamel about the decision they are facing, noting Ewers has been taking his final required English class online so that, should he choose to, he could enroll at Ohio State this fall and join the Buckeyes in camp next week.
“I don’t really know, I don’t have a final decision made quite yet,” Ewers said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “I’m leaning toward leaving and going up to Ohio, just so I don’t have to deal with UIL stuff and can get comfortable with Ohio and Columbus and start to learn.”
In Texas, Ewers would be barred from signing such deals, and leaving that much money on the table is certainly hard to do. It also doesn’t hurt that the Ohio State quarterback situation coming into this season is seen as wide open, and there is a path to playing sooner than later in Columbus. What decision Ewers makes in the coming week could be a landmark moment for college football, and also could apply pressure to state high school athletics associations to consider taking a different stance on NIL for their athletes. Ewers situation is certainly unique to the elite of elite recruits, but, particularly in a place like Texas where high school football is so important, the possibility of seeing some of the top talent, particularly at the quarterback position, pass on senior seasons to enroll early might be the thing needed to make them take a step back and reassess their stance on players making money as high schoolers.