Here Are College Football’s Biggest and Coolest NIL Deals

With the regular college football season wrapped up and bowl and championship season upon us, here are the most unique and innovative name, image, and likeness deals.
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Updated on October 4, 2023
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  • College athletes have been able to profit off their name, image, and likeness since July 2021.
  • The 2023 college football season is the third full season in which players have been able to make NIL deals.
  • This year, players are inking deals for big bucks and finding new and unique partnerships with a variety of businesses.

Life as an NCAA student-athlete is now lucrative, thanks to the NCAA's policy that allows college athletes to make an income off their name, image, and likeness (NIL).

While treasured college football traditions endure, the game changed forever in July 2021 when the NCAA introduced its NIL policy, giving college athletes the opportunity to make money.

Now, college athletes can build their own brands by making endorsement deals, cashing in on social media, and raising money for charity. They're getting paid for such things as making personal appearances, signing autographs, and even modeling underwear and endorsing political candidates.

With the college football season in full gear, here are some of the most creative, unique NIL deals college football players have signed this season.

KFC and Urban Outfitters Sign University of Colorado Quarterback Shedeur Sanders

The Colorado Buffaloes' new quarterback has seen his draft stock — and bank account — rise since he moved to the Rocky Mountains.

While the Buffaloes garnered national attention with the addition of coach Deion Sanders, his son Shedeur Sanders has been building his brand off the field thanks to NIL deals with KFC and Urban Outfitters.

Along with his coach-dad and the rest of his family, Sanders stars in a commercial for KFC's new hot and spicy wings. The commercial shows Sanders eating wings on his father's white carpet before focusing on Deion Sanders who is shown reading over the “Sanders Playbook.” Later on, Deion Sanders eventually asks for a wing after giving Sanders grief for eating on his carpet, and the commercial ends with his mother, Connie Knight, saying mhh hmm.

Outside of earning KFC money, Shedeur Sanders is also participating in a nationwide campaign with clothing retailer Urban Outfitters. Through the campaign, Sanders took 10 of his teammates back to school shopping at the store's Boulder location.

University of Tennessee Quarterback Joe Milton Now Has His Own McDonald's Meal

Tennessee Volunteers fans have a way to celebrate their star quarterback off the field at McDonald's locations across the state.

Through a partnership spurred by Spyre Sports Group, Volunteers quarterback Joe Milton secured an NIL deal with Funderburk Family McDonald's. Thanks to the deal, six McDonald's in Tennessee are selling the “Milton Meal,” which comes with a Big Mac, medium fries, large sweet tea, and sweet-n-sour sauce.

Spyre Sports manages the Tennessee NIL collective — The Volunteer Club — which supports Tennessee student-athletes through a monthly membership program. So far, it's secured more than $13.5 million in NIL deals for Tennessee student-athletes.

University of Southern California's Caleb Williams And Former Trojan Matt Leinart Promote New Wendy's Cheeseburger

USC quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams has quite a bit in common on the field with former Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart.

The two have starred on the gridiron by both winning the Heisman Trophy and leading the Trojans to winning seasons. But off the field, Leinart and Williams have ventured into business with each other through a partnership with Wendy's.

In a new commercial, Williams promotes the fast-food chain's loaded nacho cheeseburger at a press conference. At the end of the commercial, Leinart sits in a booth next to Williams and says This table has room for two quarterbacks!

Williams and Leinart also founded Hall of GOATs, an arcade-style game that is set to release early next year. The college football game will be free and will target computers at launch before eventually moving to mobile and console devices.

University of Texas Longhorns' Arch Manning Enters Trading Card Biz

Texas first-year quarterback Arch Manning is patiently waiting his turn to eventually lead the Longhorns. But in the meantime, he's entering the trading card world and cashing in big off the field.

Manning auctioned off his first NIL signed trading card in July for $102,500 through a deal with Panini America before the college football season started. The funds for the signed card will benefit a central Texas nonprofit through St. David's Healthcare and St. David's Foundation.

With Panini America, Manning released seven other trading cards, including the Arch Manning Prizm Gold, Burnt Orange Cracked Ice, and Prizm Silver cards. The cards immediately sold out, but Texas fans had the opportunity to purchase an Arch Manning Throwback Prizm Base card for only $15.

Big College Stars to Promote Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson's Energy Drink, ZOA

Ohio State star wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye, and several other college athletes will be known as “The Rock's Warriors” this season thanks to an NIL deal to promote Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson's energy drink, ZOA.

As part of the deal, The Rock's Warriors will promote the energy drink and release content on their social media platforms. Johnson said in a statement that he personally signed each athlete for the ZOA campaign because of their energy, tenacity, and the excitement they bring to their sports. Other athletes involved in the deal include Louisiana State University women's basketball star Angel Reese and Georgia tight end Brock Bowers.

Beats Invests in 15 NIL Deals With College Football Players

Audio software company Beats launched its inaugural “Beats Elite” class that includes 15 college football players who will be featured in marketing campaigns and will wear custom Beats products. Those who are part of the class include Clemson quarterback Cade Klubnik, USC quarterback Caleb Williams, Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy, and others.

Each athlete has posted about the deal on their social media platforms, and some have even gifted their entire teams with Beats by Dre headphones. As part of the NIL campaign, Beats released a film starring all 15 athletes with a new song called “Blood Moon” by Mike WiLL Made-It and Lil Uzi Vert.

Penn State Quarterback's Partnership With Frosted Flakes Is GRREEAAAT! For Kids

Penn State sophomore quarterback Drew Allar is the latest college athlete to use the power of NIL to give back.

Over the summer, Allar and Kellogg's Frosted Flakes presented a $30,000 donation to Pennsylvania middle schools with help from Tony the Tiger. After the presentation, Allar spent time with fans, played games and participated in a meet-and-greet.

Allar participated in a summertime tour across the country that was organized by Kellogg's Mission Tiger program, which is dedicated to supporting public school educators nationwide. The tour included events at stores like Albertsons, Giant Co., and Kroger.

The Ohio State University Football Team Gets Styled for Game Day

All throughout the season, 24 Ohio State offensive linemen and quarterbacks will be styled in custom Pursuit outfits for home games on their walks to Ohio Stadium.

The players worked with the Pursuit team to design the suits that are gray-and-black plaid with scarlet accents. The suits also include designs personalized uniquely by each player.

Along with the suits, Pursuit filmed a commercial showcasing Ohio State linemen acting in their new custom suits, shirts, and shoes. The commercial shows the linemen hosting a fictional fine dining restaurant in Columbus while protecting and serving Ohio State's quarterbacks.

Kansas State University's Beefy Offensive Line Signs With Vintage Clothing Company

The Kansas State Wildcats' Big 12 Championship victory last season was spurred by its starting offensive line. And with the group returning for another run, Wildcats fans have the chance to celebrate the team with a new T-shirt.

Vintage clothing company Charlie Hustle released the NIL T-shirt featuring Kansas State offensive linemen Hayden Gillum, Hadley Panzer, Kaitori Leveston, Cooper Beebe, Taylor Poitier, and Christian Duffie. The shirt reads BEEF in purple and gray letters and features Kansas State's logo. At the bottom of the shirt reads the tagline Manhandlers of Manhattan.

Kansas State's offensive line has marketed themselves as K-State Beef, and the nickname has stuck with Wildcats fans. Charlie Hustle has struck NIL deals with a handful of other colleges like Texas Christian University, Baylor University, Texas Tech University, and others.

Major League Soccer Squad Inks Deals With College Football Players

Football and soccer are coming together in Missouri where Sporting Kansas City is set to become the first Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise to throw its hat into the NIL ring.

The soccer club launched its “Sporting U NIL Program” in August featuring NIL deals with student-athletes at the University of Kansas, Kansas State University, and the University of Missouri. The deal includes Missouri kicker Blake Craig, Kansas running back Devin Neal, and soccer players from Kansas State, Kansas, and Missouri.

The purpose of the initiative is to provide a platform for Sporting Kansas City to celebrate and interact with athletes in the Kansas City area. Each athlete received payments for social media engagements, tickets for Sporting Kansas City home games, and merchandise. Student-athletes also receive assistance with strategic marketing and brand-building campaigns.