HOOVER, Ala. — Everybody figured Bryce Young would someday be a million-dollar man. The country’s top-ranked high school dual-threat quarterback when he chose Alabama before the 2020 season, Young could learn for at least three seasons under ring-master Nick Saban and then depart for the NFL and its mega paydays given to franchise QBs.
Young’s already worth close to a million, Saban said at SEC Media Days. He has yet to start a game.
Name-Image-Likeness has invaded college football, and everybody can profit. Young just happens to be one of the poster boys for it already. As a hot prospect playing for defending national champion Alabama, he's begun raking in the dough.
“That number just blew me away," Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said. "That's amazing. He made a million dollars and hasn't started a game yet?
"Wow. I don't even know how to respond to that, but great for him.”
All the coaches at SEC Media Days supported their players being able to make money now, but all were also curious as to how it’s going to play out. What are the limits? How or will it be regulated? Is there a concern among 85 scholarship players that jealousy could enter the locker room because Player X isn’t making nearly as much as Player Y?
“The question is because it's not going to be equal, and everything that we've done in college athletics in the past has always been equal. Everybody's had equal scholarship, equal opportunity,” Saban said. “Now that's probably not going to be the case. Some positions, some players will have more opportunities than others. And how that's going to impact your team, our team, the players on the team, I really can't answer because we don't have any precedent for it.”
One of the Tide’s players, defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis, said it wouldn’t be a problem because everybody’s happy for everybody. “We want to see everybody win,” Mathis said, and he wasn’t talking about games.
Young may be leading the way in terms of individual endorsement worth, but the movement didn’t take long to hit every program in the country. Every scholarship player at Miami has been offered $600 per month to endorse American Top Team, a nationwide chain of mixed martial arts gyms created by avowed Hurricanes superfan Dan Lambert.
Georgia is also getting help from a huge fan that the Bulldogs all know. Quavo, the frontman of rap trio Migos, was born in Athens and has never been shy about his allegiance to UGa. He’s reached out to coach Kirby Smart about potential NIL opportunities for the Bulldogs’ players.
At South Carolina, many athletes have already signed on with PSD Underwear and other smaller initiatives. North Charleston native Dakereon Joyner inked a deal with Charleston’s Atlantic Bedding and Furniture, while women’s basketball player Zia Cooke announced she will host a basketball camp for youth players in her Toledo hometown. Attendees will be charged $50 each.
“It is neat the players can make money now and profit off of their hard work and what basically everybody else in America gets to do. So I'm excited about it,” Kiffin said. “I think it's very challenging trying to figure out how these things happen and what's legal and what's not in all that.”
Thus far there have been no reins yanked to stop the runaway mustangs. It doesn’t appear there will be.