Recruit Route: College Sports Recruiting and Name, Image and Likeness (NIL)….Why the two are already on a crash course together!

For years college sports recruiting had been evolving methodically will little fanfare unless, like me, you inspect the details of it with a fine-tooth comb. This natural evolution saw the evaluation process start earlier and earlier (College Football can thank Mack Brown for that), rapid expansion in interest and investment into college facilities, the rise in cloud-hosted video (@Hudl) making it easier and easier to watch and evaluation student-athletes and then of course social media (feels like Twitter is basically a recruiting app some days), plus all of the recruiting coverage at sites like Rivals, 24/7, ESPN and now On3.

Now, the College Sports Recruiting process is shifting into overdrive! A crash course in some ways!  Why you ask? Name, Image and Likeness that’s why! You see, now a student-athlete can profit based off the right to publicity and therefore a high school student-athlete’s decision about where he or she might attend college is no longer just about the degree, the facilities, location, gear and coaches. Now a student-athlete and family must consider all sorts of new factors around personal monetization, branding, business and communications departments and more. What we’ve seen since July 1, 2021 is college student athletes (and many High School Athletes) now earning money (and thus high school athletes now think about these things when deciding about college fit) by doing the following:

  • Hosting Camps
  • Private Lessons
  • Merchandise
  • Apparel
  • Podcasting
  • Social Media Posts/Brand Endorsements
  • Commercials
  • Memorabilia
  • Autographs
  • Twitch/YouTube/Gaming
  • Shopify/Patreon
  • Open a small business
  • Opt into a marketplace
  • And much more….

Honestly that’s just the tip of the iceberg of things, as college student athletes are experimenting with these new rules (they already have) as they consider their brand and what they want!   Take for example Cameron Little the former 2021 Adidas All-America and now freshman kicker at the University of Arkansas, who recently announced he would be partnering with Down Syndrome Connection of NWA!   He is using is right to publicity to help a non-profit by donating $10 per kick at  What most people may not realize is for Cameron this is his brand.  You see this aligns to Cameron’s brand as his cousin back in Oklahoma City, OK, Ayden Little has Down Syndrome.   What a great way to show the SEC, the state of Arkansas and the country who you are, align to a brand that means so much to you and give back.  Well done Cam! 

And while we talk a lot about college athletes, the high school recruits are thinking about NIL as well and that is where we find it very interesting to watch the intersection of NIL and recruiting.   Some are doing their research, some depending on which state they are in are actually pursuing deals (we’ve all read about the Quinn Ewers the #1 rated QB in the class of 2022 from South Lake, TX and his NIL deal) but there are many other more practical examples of high school athletes managing their brand and making a plans now to pursue NIL deals in the future regardless of the school they pick.  Take Jocelyn Malaska a 2022 6’2 180lb corner from Bethany High School in Oklahoma City, OK who has over 22,000 followers on Instagram!  Malaska has a unique story having only lived in the United States for seven years since being adopted from an orphanage in Haiti.   Malaska’s blends fun, humor and football into his social presence online which has led to the large following.  In fact, a large percentage of his followers are Haitian and love that he uses the hashtag #HatianNationDomination as often as possible and his unique path to power 5 “American” football.  Malaska’s unique size and skill (even as a late bloomer) garnered him numerous division I offers over the past year and a commitment to play football at the University of Utah but his loyalty to Haiti never have wavered and is actually prominently promoted in his recent commitment video which he has shared all over social media. 

Malaska’s family even secured the domain name for while Jo was in High School and plans to use it in the future and align it to his NIL deals in the future.   How cool is that?   What I found interesting is the types of questions the Malaska’s were asking me during the recruiting process.  Questions like “Who has the better communications and media department?   Which college already has an NIL program established?   Which program and fan base will be a better long term fit for NIL?.   Pretty cool stuff for a recruiting guy like me, but as the title of this blog states, these two worlds (recruiting and NIL) are colliding. Honestly….they already have.

Bryan Bedford


Bedford Agency & Recruit Route

For more information on Recruit Route please visit us at

Leave a Reply