To learn more about NIL, collectives, and their influence on college football, TPR spoke with an anonymous NIL agent who currently works with over 30 college football players available in the transfer portal.
We discussed everything from his current role as an agent, to FBS vs FCS recruitment, to the high-level figures some of these transfers are receiving:
Q: What’s your background in sports and how did you move into your current position?
A: “I played as a Division I defensive lineman, my whole family we’ve all played football and I have a brother who’s currently a Division I wide receiver as well. I was the youngest agent ever to get my [Canadian Football League Players Association] license. Before I got that at 20-years-old, I had met several agents because I had started helping kids get recruited from JUCO, the transfer portal, and mainly high school was the focus of it. I wanted to give back and help all the guys younger than me at my high school and anybody that needed recruiting help and that snowballed into [generating] some money. People started saying they’d pay me to help their kids get recruited, high school coaches, everything. My Twitter just kept growing and I started diving into the agency side of things. I met a lot of good people that I learned from and that’s when I got my CFLPA license. These NIL contracts just keep getting bigger and bigger and a lot of people don’t understand that if you don’t have representation, you’re gonna get lowballed. So that’s my goal, to make sure we get every player’s actual value. [NIL], it’s been a new thing for everybody, but it’s definitely evolved like crazy and I would say this year has been the breakout year for it. Most power fives and [other high-majors], every meaningful player on the roster is pretty much getting something.”
Q: During the transfer recruitment process, when are NIL deals usually discussed?
A: “There are some more high maintenance players that [NIL] is the main reason why they’re entering [the portal] in the first place because it’s kind of got to that point where it’s like free agency. I would say those conversations start happening once the player breaks it down to his top 5-10 [schools]. Until the player breaks it down to his five or 10, those conversations don’t really happen because anything before that, it’s a crazy mess and that could ruin the kid’s other offers. If you start talking about that stuff too early, it’s just a turn off for the coaches.”
Q: Do you ever see players approached by coaches where NIL is actually the first point of discussion?
A: “Yeah, for sure. I mean, we represent a top running back right now that multiple [coaches] said over $500,000 just for the year. There’s a point where some of those top tier guys, that’s the only conversation because [coaches] know [NIL] is the only thing that’s gonna make them want to leave. So, there’s a point where for those five star guys that it doesn’t really matter where they’re going to play because they’re still going to be insane regardless. [NIL is] pretty much the only topic for those guys.”
Q: What do you think is the most successful way to recruit with NIL?
A: “I think having that dedicated fan base and the big businesses in your city, you gotta get all those guys involved or you’re just going to drown. I’m just going to use the easiest example of Miami (FL). They’ve got a billionaire and other top businessmen in Florida running their [NIL Collective]. So them combined with all the other outsiders that love Miami football. I know it hasn’t really translated to championships yet, but if you pair the most powerful businesses up with your city and keep all the fans involved through social media and through the [NIL] collective and stuff. I think that’s the best way to be good. I would say that’s a bigger factor than just straight up evaluating guys and [recruiting]. You gotta get some power behind you and just make friends with everybody. Make everybody [in the city] want to make the football team good.”
Q: What’s the maximum you’ve seen offered through an NIL deal?
A: The top guy [at our agency] right now, he’s getting 35k per month for 10 months. So that’s the top guy we’ve seen so far. So if you can imagine, they’re paying a top interior D-lineman 350k for the year then you can just imagine what a top quarterback or edge rusher [makes]. Quarterbacks for sure [can make] one to two million for an absolute stud.”
Q: How are FCS schools navigating NIL compared to the big money we see FBS schools throwing around?
A: “[They’re] not at all. I’ve been preaching that FCS is the new JUCO for FBS schools. They’re trying to pick every single kid that’s playing really good football after their second, third or fourth years and just putting them on their team for their fourth and fifth seasons and loading up their roster and taking off the tops of all those programs. These [bigger] schools they’re starting to just look down at these FCS and D2 rosters and just picking out the top guys that can be a better plug and play then the freshman or sophomore that still needs to mature more. For [those bigger teams] their main guy, they want to use a veteran who’s in his sixth year and already knows everything and has five years of starting experience.”
“For the [few] FCS teams that are trying to give people money, they’re just saying ‘we’ll give you at least [monetarily] close to what an FBS team would give you and you’ve still got a chance to win a [national championship]’ but I would say it’s only like the top 5-10 [FCS] schools.”
Q: Are players’ expectations of NIL often in line with the market before they enter the portal or is there a steep education process that you need to apply with the players you represent?
A: “I don’t think there’s a market that’s really been set yet, so we’ve got to educate them a lot. We had a main core of players that we represented first, then everybody else that came and was interested in our representation, we had to give them examples based on the guys that we had already been talking numbers with. You’d be surprised, it’s not always the best schools that give the most money. It might be a team like TCU really trying to double-down this year to make a good run so they might offer more than a team like Texas. Some of those teams that really need talent, they’re more willing to just dig deep and give more than a better school.”
Q: The general public’s opinion seems to be that there’s a lot of tampering that happens to get players to jump into the transfer portal but how often does that actually happen if at all?
A: “I feel like there’s really no rules anymore. It’s kind of sad, but I’ve seen [tampering] happen a lot. You can see things that happen beforehand and a player will enter the portal three days later and then it all makes sense. If a coach leaves or says something and then a player leaves two later we just know something happened.”
Check out The Portal Report’s 2023-24 Transfer Portal Database tracker here.