Beginning on July 1, college athletes were allowed to profit off their name, image and likeness when state laws and temporary NCAA guideline went into effect. Since then, Miami (FL) quarterback D'Eriq King has been at the forefront of a wave of players making money in creative ways, and now he's dipping his toe into the professional sports world. 

The Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League announced Monday that they have signed the Hurricanes quarterback to become the team's first "FLA Athlete." It marks the first time that a professional sports franchise has partnered with an American student-athlete in a NIL deal.

"We are thrilled to welcome D'Eriq to Panthers Territory as our first 'FLA Athlete," said Panthers chief strategy officer Sam Doerr. "D'Eriq is a superstar both on and off the field and we are excited to reach and engage South Florida sports fans in new ways through this collaborative partnership."

King will appear at Panthers game, work closely with its social media and marketing team, develop co-branded merchandise and create a concession menu item at the BB&T center, the home arena for the Panthers. 

The Panthers, who play in Sunrise, a suburb of Miami, intend to expand the "FLA Athlete" program with King serving as the foundation of its efforts. 

King threw for 2,686 yards and 23 touchdowns in 11 games last year, and added 130 carries for 538 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. He suffered a torn ACL in the Cheez-It Bowl vs. Oklahoma State and has spent the offseason rehabbing in anticipation for the 2021 season. He is expected to be ready to go when Miami opens the 2021 season vs. defending national champion Alabama at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.

Since the inception of the NIL rules, King has partnered with Florida State quarterback McKenzie Milton to co-found Dreamfield (a company dedicated to marketing student-athletes to potential sponsors), signed a deal with a national moving and storage company and is a part of a Miami team that has its entire roster endorsed by a regional mixed martial arts gym.