Thursday marked the beginning of a new era in college sports as rules allowing athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness went into effect around the country. Immediately, the effects of the new rules could be seen across the country as athletes from several sports -- not just football and basketball -- began announcing partnerships with companies.
Among the two most common moves announced by college athletes on Thursday were partnerships with video game platform Yoke, which allows gamers to play with athletes. Dozens of college football players announced their entry to the platform with social media posts. Another popular starting point for many prominent athletes was the platform of Cameo, which allows fans to pay athletes and celebrities to record personalized video messages.
Texas running back Bijan Robinson was among the big names debuting on Cameo as he posted on the platform announcing his Cameo page is open for business at $100 per video. Personalized videos and video gaming opportunities were just the start on Thursday, however, on what amounted to one of the most monumental days in the history of college sports away from the actual playing field.
Here is a rundown of some the highlights as athletes begin cashing on their NIL rights.
McKenzie Milton and D'Eriq King
A couple of well-known quarterbacks in the Sunshine State aren't just in it for themselves. The duo quickly announced the launch of a platform called Dreamfield that will help link college athletes with opportunities for public appearances, among other things. Florida State QB Milton and Miami QB King also signed deals of their own with a moving company.
Fresno State women's basketball players Haley and Hanna Cavinder have racked up millions of followers on TikTok, and now the twins can capitalize on their social media prowess. The duo scored a deal with wireless carrier Boost Mobile that illustrates the possibilities for athletes who don't regularly play in the national spotlight. They also posted an endorsement for a nutrition company on Instagram along with a dollar symbolic of the new day in college sports.
LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne boasts more than a million followers on Instagram and is often cited as one of the college athletes poised to benefit most from the rule changes. She did not unveil a partnership Thursday, however she did tease what might be ahead. "Dreams do come true…big things coming," Dunne wrote on Instagram beneath a post showing her highlights playing on a Times Square video board.
Trey Knox (and Blue)
Arkansas receiver Trey Knox snagged a partnership with a nationally known retailer, but he has his four-legged friend to thank for the deal. Knox and his Husky, Blue, will start a social media campaign with PetSmart, the company announced. Blue looks really excited about all the free treats that will be coming her way.
"I have always been proud to be a student-athlete and an Arkansas football player, but I am just as proud to be a dog dad to Blue," Knox said. "It was a clear fit to work alongside PetSmart in this game-changing opportunity showcasing my love of Blue and how PetSmart fills all her needs."
Nix is heading into his third season as Auburn's starting quarterback with 94,000 Instagram followers, and his most recent post shows how his visibility is helping him capitalize on the new NIL rules. The former five-star prospect shared a photo of himself with a bottle of Milo's sweet tea along with a promotional message.
Fellow college quarterback Sam Howell of North Carolina replied, "Ain't waste no time 😂😂😂," in an apparent nod to the quickness with which Nix capitalized on the new rules.
Iowa guard Jordan Bohannon has been among college basketball's most vocal advocates for NIL opportunities and the rising sixth-year senior wasted little time cashing in the new rules. In addition to his partnership with an Iowa fireworks store, Bohannon also launched a t-shirt line.
"So dang happy for every single athlete across the country," Bohannon wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
Oklahoma's star quarterback and 2021 Heisman favorite entering the season unveiled a unique logo with his initials and pledged to use some of his NIL earnings for the greater good in an Instagram announcement late Wednesday night.
"We as players must use our platform and this new NIL opportunity to do good in the world," Rattler wrote. "I will donate a part of any earnings I receive to help underserved people and underserved communities. The time is now."
Lexi Sun, a Nebraska volleyball player with more than 75,000 Twitter followers, announced a partnership with a volleyball apparel company. Sun won't be keeping all the proceeds for herself, though.
"Because of the lasting impact that our sports psychology department has had on my life, I am committed to donating a portion of the proceeds to a non profit sports psychology organization," Sun wrote. "I am hopeful that this will provide other athletes with the opportunity to learn more about themselves & be able to grow not only on the court, but also as individuals off the court!"
ah hi friends!! so SO excited to introduce to you…THE SUNNY CREW.— lexi sun (@lexiisun) July 1, 2021
ive been working on this fun / happy lil project for some time now & am stoked i get to share it w yall :)
shop ur new crew by going to https://t.co/hYHhJeUEVo ✨
SALES START TONIGHT @ 12 MIDNIGHT pic.twitter.com/VfWK9uR6pw
Myles Brennan and Derek Stingley Jr.
Considering the prominence of LSU football in the state of Louisiana, it was no surprise to see a couple of LSU football stars announce partnerships with restaurants that have their roots in the state. Quarterback Myles Brennan said on Instagram that details will be coming soon about his partnerships with Smoothie King and Small's Sliders. Meanwhile, junior Tigers defensive back Derek Stingley Jr. teased his own deal with Walk-On's, a growing restaurant chain founded by former LSU basketball players.
The Players Trunk
Deals with apparel arrangements were among the most common on the first day of the NIL era. Athletes from major programs such as Kentucky basketball's Dontaie Allen and Clemson football's Justyn Ross announced partnerships with The Players Trunk for custom merchandise.
Vandagriff has yet to play a game for Georgia, and he will likely be the backup to JT Daniels this season, but the five-star freshman quarterback prospect from the 2021 class is reportedly already positioned to cash in. The No. 16 overall player from this year's class is expected to receive a marketing opportunity from apparel company Onward Reserve, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported on Thursday.