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Nebraska Cornhuskers wide receiver Samori Toure signs autographs after the Red and White Spring Game
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

Nebraska Recruiting: The New World of Name, Image and Likeness

June 28, 2021

Recruiting never stops and it’s easy to miss the top stories day-to-day. Recruiting analyst Greg Smith recaps all things Nebraska recruiting news, analysis and more so you never miss a thing.

Name, image and likeness takes effect in college athletics on Thursday, July 1. It’s going to change a lot of things about the world of college football, and that includes on the recruiting trail.

Exactly what the change will look like (and mean) for programs like Nebraska has been top of mind for Husker fans for some time. With Brandon Vogel’s help, we tried to tackle what exactly name, image and likeness will mean for recruiting in the latest Recruiting Question of the Week video. You can get caught up below.

Name, image and likeness will change recruiting. We can’t know to what degree until we’ve had time to see it in action, but we know that it will.

With that said, the NCAA does want to protect some pieces of the recruiting process. That means there will be guardrails of some kind put in place to prevent businesses or brands from paying an athlete only to choose one school over another. Some “benefits” will remain impermissible, even under the NCAA’s new rules to manage NIL. It won’t be perfect, but whatever the NCAA ultimately approves on Wednesday should at least lessen some of the worry about discrepancies between states and schools in the short term.

The biggest piece for recruits, however, will really be how schools use NIL in their pitches. At Nebraska, the Huskers (of any sport) could sell the media market (which is significant), the fanbase (also significant) and local businesses as opportunities for recruits. It’s already been part of the pitch for Nebraska over the last year or so—and you even see it in the Huskers designing logos for current athletes—so this part won’t be necessarily new. What will be new is the data that will start to back it up. As athletes start to make money off of their name, image and likeness, Nebraska coaches are going to be able to point to that as examples of what’s possible in Lincoln.

The fanbase piece is going to be an especially interesting one for Nebraska too. An engaged fanbase takes the NIL piece far beyond just sponsorships. If a player has a YouTube or a TikTok and profits off of those accounts through ads or their creator studios, a robust and engaged fanbase can be a major draw. That’s also true for an athlete that may be interested in starting his or her own line of merchandise. If a program has a lot of fans, that’s a lot of potential customers. For Nebraska, the fanbase is definitely a selling point for recruits and NIL will only emphasize that more.

Of course, NIL is not going to be the only thing that sells a program. A recruit is going to be interested in how a team performs on the field, too. A team’s performance on the field should only benefit the players off the field when it comes to potential sponsorship and endorsement deals. It’s hard not to see the team in the College Football Playoff getting a boost for their own brands.

We’ll revisit the topic many times in the coming months, but it’ll be especially interesting once we hear a recruit include NIL in their reasoning for selecting a school. It will happen, and it’ll make for some interesting data points when we finally hear it happen. Until then, we can only assume what may or may not happen.

One year from now though? It’s going to look quite a bit different on the recruiting trail.

Recruit Watch

>> Legacy recruit and 3-star Florida defensive back James Monds III plans to make his commitment announcement on the Fourth of July.

>> North Dakota athlete Carson Hegerle shared photos from a recent visit to Nebraska on Twitter.


>> Nebraska will host former conference foe Colorado for an exhibition game on Oct. 31 that will raise money for a trio of local charities.

>> If Nebraska truly values stability, and Scott Frost shows progress, a change of the athletic director shouldn’t mean danger for the head coach, writes Derek Peterson.

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