HOOVER, Ala. — When the NCAA announced the enforcement of its new NIL bill effective July 1, student-athletes began signing deals to represent businesses and legally profit off their name, image, and likeness for the first time in history.
With that, a whole new world was opened to college football players as young as 18 years old that, before the bill, was not offered until a player left their school: the world of sports business.
With the financial floodgates open to inundate his young players, Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart began teaching his players how to navigate the untested NIL waters. Smart mentioned the importance of this guidance during his press conference Tuesday at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala.
“There’s a lot of education that we’re doing in house to make that an advantage for our young men, and that’s something that we continue to drive home with our players, and they understand,” said Smart.
The head man also mentioned advice he received from famous rapper and Georgia football superfan, Quavo shortly after the NIL bill was enforced.
“The first text I got was two weeks after NIL started, and he said, ‘Coach, please tell the players be selective who they put their brand with. Don’t just do anything. … Don’t be thirsty.’”
Quarterback JT Daniels, also present in Hoover, announced a deal with ESM on July 6. Daniels, who transferred from USC after a devastating knee injury, earned the starting job at UGA in Week 9 of the 2020 season. After throwing for over 400 yards and four touchdowns in his debut in the red and black, Daniels led the Bulldogs to five straight wins to end the season, including a blockbuster comeback victory in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Daniels had little to say on his contract with ESM, choosing to focus on the season ahead.
“For me, season mode kicks in June 1, when you come back from your May break because that May break is the only time you have off for the rest of the year,” Daniels said. “So, we’re fully in season mode. I wish I could give more about NIL, but it’s just not a huge focus for really a lot of people that I’ve talked to.”
Defensive tackle Jordan Davis also spoke on the NIL bill Tuesday. Davis, who has been an anchor in a touted Georgia defensive front for two years, has not signed any NIL deals to date. Right now, Davis is simply focused on his improvement on the field.
“I definitely think the NIL thing is a great addition to the NCAA. It gives us an opportunity to use our platform for profit, but in terms of me, I haven’t touched it. I’m confused by it, honestly,” he said. “My main focus is just playing football because you can’t get an NIL deal if you’re not good at football.”
Davis also mentioned the program’s culture of “keeping the main thing the main thing,” a Kirby Smart-coined expression.
“We’ve got two young men today that are here, one has NIL deals, one that doesn’t, and that’s by their choice,” said Smart. “We know there may be inequities with positions and things, but our team is very confident that we will manage that, and that will not be a distraction during our offseason, and I’m excited to see them handle that.”
“The main thing is something that we always want to go back to, and it’s more than NIL,” Davis said. “We want to play. We want to ball. We want to win.”