College athletes across the nation have profited off the new era of collegiate sports, with NIL taking over as the biggest attraction to those staying in school. Blue-chip prospects and Heisman Trophy candidates have been swarmed with constant promotional requests, but many players seem to have found their niche in the NIL business.
Whether it's million-dollar contracts, luxury cars, or an overabundance of marketing opportunities, athletes across the nation have taken complete advantage of the new norm.
NIL contracts established a standard for recruiting and team personnel, but some of the deals in 2022 have created a national buzz since athletes and team collectives are now comfortable with playing the game.
Decoldest Crawford Signs with HVAC Company
Nebraska wide receiver Decoldest Crawford recently inked an NIL deal with a local HVAC company, SOS Heating & Cooling. There hasn't been a better company-and-player fit in the NIL landscape than this one. Crawford has been well known for his name since high school, going viral from a Louisiana news station interview in 2019.
The incoming freshman has been with the Cornhuskers for just a few months, and he's already one of the most popular names on the roster. Large businesses and corporations, including Nike and Gatorade have benefited from NIL rules, but local businesses have slowly put their footprint on the market.
Crawford is the new spokesperson for SOS Heating & Cooling, having the ability to profit off his name and support small businesses. He's established financial success before stepping foot on the college gridiron. If Crawford can flourish in Nebraska, he may be one of the most desired ambassadors in college football.
Bijan Robinson Signs with Lamborghini Austin
Arguably the nation's top running back, Bijan Robinson of the Texas Longhorns broke the internet when he partnered with Lamborghini in Austin, Texas. Most college athletes spent time negotiating with local businesses or respected brands such as Cash App and Raising Cane's, but Robinson took another step forward to the land of luxury.
Companies including BMW and Ford have secured NIL deals with collegiate athletes, but a high-class brand such as Lamborghini hadn't joined the movement until then. Robinson opened the door for athletes such as C.J. Stroud and Shilo Sanders to sign deals with high-class car companies like Bentley and Porsche.
The full details regarding Robinson's deal with Lamborghini Austin have yet to be explained, but fans will be able to see and hear Robinson on his way to DKR Stadium next season. His deal with Lamborghini shows that there are clear levels in NIL contracts, as Robinson is rewarded for his talent on the field and popularity in the sport.
Rayquan Smith Signs over 70 NIL Deals
HBCU product Rayquan Smith has evolved from "Norfolk State running back" to the "King of NIL." Smith is heading into his senior year having earned over 70 NIL deals. Despite disadvantages at the FCS level, he's clearly one of the most established advocates of the NIL rules.
After playing with the Spartans for two seasons, he'll forgo his career in pads and serve as a decathlete for Norfolk State, per FanNation's Kyle T. Mosley. Smith has turned his athletic ability into a growing source of revenue for himself, while teaching athletes across the nation how the NIL rules truly function.
Although most of Smith's contract agreements have been short-term pacts with apparel or fashion accessory brands, he's reportedly signed with national corporations, including Champs Sports, Body Armor and Arby's.
Smith was recently presented with the "Hustle Award" from the NIL Summit awards in June, given to the athlete with the most determination and willingness to thrive in the NIL environment.
Jaden Rashada's Alleged $9.5M NIL Contract
Miami commit Jaden Rashada might've turned himself into a multi-millionaire before he ever took a snap at the FBS level. The 4-star prospect from Pittsburg, California, reportedly signed a $9.5 million deal with a Hurricanes booster in June.
The highly touted recruit essentially prompted a bidding war between Miami and Florida. After he committed to head coach Mario Cristobal and the Canes, multiple reports emerged that he turned down an $11 million dollar offer from the Gators. The Florida collective was quick to deny its connection and stated it was never in communication with Rashada and his financial team.
The mystery behind Rashada and his involvement with various programs in the state of Florida still raises a major debate over a player's NIL worth. One of the biggest issues with the NIL rules has been deciphering the contract value of each collegiate player and each recruit.
The NCAA set regulations when the NIL policy was recommended that it will not tolerate pay-for-play inducements from schools. Rashada and the collectives he was involved with in Gainesville and Miami have all declined their collaboration with the deals, but the evidence seems to help prove that his historic contract may well be true.
Texas Tech Awarded Team NIL Deal
The state of Texas has ruled the NIL landscape, with collective units and star players joining forces for million dollar gains. The Texas Longhorns and Texas A&M Aggies may be a step ahead of the Texas Tech Red Raiders on the field, but TTU found a way to earn each of its scholarship players a base salary of $25,000 next season.
A group of Texas Tech alums created a nonprofit collective earlier this year to help the Red Raiders compete with national programs while maintaining a steady spending limit that wouldn't cause disdain within the athletics program, per The Athletic.
It'll give each player a chance to opt in for a one-year salary if they agree to the terms on completing community service and working as a representative for charities in the West Texas area.
The offer would include 85 scholarship athletes and 20 walk-ons. A founding member of the Matador Club, Cody Campbell emphasized the collective as a chance to show unity and family traits at Texas Tech, per The Athletic's Max Olson:
"The focus for the Matador Club is going to be on building the program long-term and making sure the players at Texas Tech feel supported, they’re comfortable and they’re taken care of so they can remain in the program, develop themselves, become better football players and better people."
Tyler Van Dyke Receives Lease for BMW
Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke claimed ownership of a new BMW 750i in April. The Connecticut native won't be awarded the full title to the car, having agreed to a deal that has him leasing the BMW until he leaves the University of Miami, per The Athletic.
Some of the main incentives for local collectives will be keeping stars within their program, and creating a sense of security and organization within the team.
In his appreciation post on Twitter, Van Dyke made sure to thank Rosenhaus Sports and Sarchione Auto Gallery for getting the deal done. His agent, Shawn O'Dare, is known as a former Hurricanes wide receiver and current NFL agent who's secured Van Dyke some of the most lucrative contracts in college football.
At the time, Van Dyke's agreement to lease the car was one of the first deals that had a flexible timeline that benefited the team.
Van Dyke isn't the only Hurricane driving in style; Kansas State basketball transfer Nijel Pack was also promised a new car when he agreed to a two-year $800,000 deal with LifeWallet. UM has created incredible opportunities for its student-athletes to thrive, and a leasing opportunity that requires a player to stay with the program is genius.
Oklahoma Signs Deal with Fanatics
The Oklahoma Sooners recently agreed to a deal with Fanatics that would allow customized jerseys at the team shop and online. Sooner fans will now have the ability to design blank football jerseys, per Pete Nakos. Select programs across the country like Florida and Alabama have created opportunities for fans to purchase jerseys from their favorite players, partnering with Jordan brand and Fanatics, but OU fans will have the option to acquire anyone's jersey on the team.
Oklahoma has spent a majority of the time with NIL trying to please both the fans and the players. Aside from making sure their student-athletes are in the best position to succeed financially, they've created multiple opportunities to grow their fanbase and players as a united group. Collectives around the Sooners and alum that once wore the crimson and cream have generated wealth from autograph events to offseason experiences with players, to game day activities around campus.
Their new contract with Fanatics may not be groundbreaking in terms of benefiting the entire team or growing a massive cash haul, but they'll likely benefit from their goal of satisfying all parties involved with the program.