10 college stars that would have struck gold if profiting off NIL was allowed

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There is a new era in college sports now that athletes can profit off their Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) after the July 1st passing.

The old days of arguing that college athletes should be paid are over, as college stars across the nation are already pulling in the big bucks. Texas running back Bijan Robinson is making Cameo appearances for $100, Miami quarterback D’eriq King has his own brand, and rapper Master P’s son Hercy Miller (who has yet to take a shot at Tennessee State) is a millionaire thanks to a four-year, $2 million endorsement deal with tech company Web Apps America.

So long to that easy persuasive essay topic for students.

Although the passing of the rule is long overdue, there are countless college stars of the past who would have needed the brinks trucks in order to hold all their money.

There are obviously too many to chose from, but I’ve went ahead and listed 10 that are likely the cream of the crop. Before we take a look, it is mandatory to credit Donald de la Haye, the UCF Kicker who chose to forgo college football for YouTube. He has long been a talking point of the movement and it is unfortunate he had to give up playing the sport he loved.

Here are 10 athletes that likely would have cashed in the big bucks if profiting off of NIL was allowed during their collegiate careers:

Ricky Williams, Texas Running Back (1995-1998)

Brian Bahr /Allsport

Williams was a star at Texas and ran the state when he was a Longhorn. There were Williams jerseys everywhere, as he shattered records during his senior year when he rushed for 2,327 yards. He holds or shares 20 NCAA records and finished his career with over 6,500 rushing yards 74 touchdowns. In a time football actually valued running backs, Williams was an elite talent and an interesting person overall. His main sponsorship likely would have been frowned upon at the time, but there would have been endless endorsements to choose from.

Brittney Griner, Baylor Forward (2009-2013)

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Griner likely had one of the the most dominant careers in college basketball history. She was a household name, known for her ability to overpower everyone on offense and block every shot that came her way on defense. She was a three-time All-American and was named Most Outstanding Player of the 2012 NCAA Tournament when the Bears won their second national championship. Griner also had the ability to throw down some powerful dunks, and her popularity had grown so much that sports shows on ESPN and across television were debating if she should enter the NBA draft rather than the WNBA. Griner was also very vocal during her time at Baylor and likely would have had a few endorsement deals sent her way.

Bo Jackson, Auburn Running Back/Outfielder (1982-1986)

Auburn University Football Player, Bo Jackson shown in 1986. (AP Photo)

Bo knows all. We can all agree that he would have made an insane amount of money during his college career. Jackson is widely regarded as one of, if not the best athlete of all time, especially in college. Just in 1985 alone, Jackson hit .401 with 17 homers for the baseball team and rushed for more than 1,800 yards and 17 touchdowns for the football team and won the Heisman Trophy. Everyone wanted a piece of Jackson, and even without the existence of social media, everyone seemed to know who Bo was. He and Bosworth likely were the two most famous college athletes at the time and Jackson would have been the hero to The Boz's villain.

Deion Sanders, Florida State Defensive Back (1985-1988)

USA TODAY Sports

Sanders, also known as Prime Time, was a star in everything he did in college. He was so outspoken that he would make Jalen Ramsey look shy. Not only was Sanders a three-sport athlete at Florida State, he was a part of a conference championship in track, hit .331 on the baseball diamond, and was a two-time All-American in football. Not to mention, he also had an alter ego known as Leon Sandcastle who was a rapper. Sanders was the epitome of a college star and likely could have had endorsements for his athletics and music if he wanted. There is literally no athlete or person that compares to Deion Sanders and likely never will be.

Tim Tebow, Florida Quarterback (2006-2009)

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Considered by some to be the best college football player of all time, Tim Tebow was a literal icon for Florida. He was a fiery leader that cried on national television after a loss and started a trend of having Bible verses written on his eye black. Tebow won the Heisman Trophy in 2007 and was a part of two BCS National Championship-winning teams during the 2006 and 2008 seasons. It is believed that no one across college football history had more jersey's purchased than Tebow and likely no one ever will. Tebow was a flat out icon and would have had every Christian deal and Gatorade endorsement imaginable.

Reggie Bush, USC Running Back (2003-2005)

USA TODAY Sports Copyright © 2006 Jeff Lewis

Reggie Bush and the USC dynasty of the early 2000's were must-see television. People such as Snoop Dogg and Will Ferrell graced the sidelines of their games and practices and Bush was one of the main reasons. He was as electric as they come and was a human joy stick. He won a Heisman, which got taken because of benefits his family received, and was an All-American apart of a National Championship team. In a place like Los Angeles, which at the time valued USC football more than every team besides the Lakers, Bush would have been a millionaire before playing an NFL snap.

Jimmer Fredette, BYU Guard (2007-2011)

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Jimmer Fredette was at one point the only other name that fans mentioned before throwing something, with the original being Kobe. He took the college basketball world by storm, as he pulled up from what was known as "Jimmer range" long before it became “Curry range.” Kevin Durant, who was an MVP at the time Jimmer was a senior, declared Jimmer the best scorer in the world. Even President Obama was a fan of him. He was so popular in college that he needed a escort after every game and a car would be driven to a secret exit for him to avoid the large groups of fans. He was the AP Player of the Year and even dropped a career high 52-points. He is someone who could have profited the most, and likely needed to given he was unable to string together a consistent NBA career. He is a star in China though!

The Fab Five, Michigan Basketball (1991-1993)

Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press

The Michigan Fab Five were cultural icons that changed the style in basketball forever, and were the biggest stars in college sports. The team had five freshman in their starting five, which was a recruiting class considered by many to be the best of all time. The team consisted of Chris Webber (ranked the No. 1 player in the country), Howard (No. 3), Rose (No. 5), King (No. 9) and Jackson (No. 84). They integrated swag into basketball with long baggy shorts, bald heads and trash talk. The team needed police escorts to go anywhere and their style was so impactful that merchandise resembling what they wore was sold, some of which that literally used their NIL. The team was considered the Beatles of college basketball, and if there was social media likely would be the most followed players on the planet. They would have had clothing deals, shoe deals, and everything imaginable, because there was literally no comparison for them. They were All-Americans, made it to back-to-back champions, and we have not seen college athletes as impactful as they were.

Zion Williamson, Duke Forward (2018-2019)

Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press

Unfortunately for Zion, he missed out on being able to profit on NIL by just a couple years. He came into Duke as one of the biggest stars ever. Drake wore his high school jersey, his dunks were posted every where, and he was often on ESPN. Just off his dunking ability alone and following he would have garnered some deals. He had millions of social media followers as a junior in high school, and many did not know if his style of play would translate to college. Well...he became the most dominant college player in years and being at Duke was a part of the biggest brand in college basketball. He was the consensus National Player of the Year and consensus first-team All-America selection. He even had Obama in attendance for a rivalry game against North Carolina, which ended in Zion's shoe exploding. An incident that caught so many eyes, Nike's stock dropped a full percent over night. Zion likely would have had an NBA-like earning in college.

Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M Quarterback (2012-2013)

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The legend of "Johnny Football" or "Money Manziel" was an insane time. Whether it was beating Alabama by scrambling around, or telling opponents to look at the scoreboard, Manziel was the story of America during his career. Everything he did was in the public eye, and although he likely would have been a risky endorsement, he would have been profitable. He would hang out with LeBron James and Drake, and the legendary rapper even wore his jersey. He had the elite stars of other sports and the music industry fan-boying over him. Manziel lived the Rockstar lifestyle in college, partying all week, and then dropping 50-plus points on SEC opponents. He was all over social media, and the world just did not know what to make of the Heisman winner, but they loved him. The millions he made in college would have made up for his lackluster NFL career.

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