Name, image, and likeness (NIL) deals are now exploding all over the sports industry, and athletes are taking full advantage of the opportunity. The opportunity became a wide-open field on June 21, 2021, when the Supreme Court ruled that the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) was engaging in what they called an “illegal restraint of trade” by forbidding them to get endorsement deals for their sports play. There are plenty of restrictions in place, still. For example, a student cannot endorse a “vice” business, such as gambling or prostitution — but for the most part, business is booming in the world of college sports.

According to ESPN, male athletes are dominating the NIL industry by a wide margin. Between July 31, 2021 — which was officially the first day NIL deals were allowed after the Supreme Court made its ruling — and Dec. 31, 2021, more than 125,000 athletes have signed some form of a NIL deal. That’s out of about 500,000 athletes total across three divisions today, which means about 25 percent of all college athletes have NIL deals of some kind.

What’s more, colleges are generally tight-lipped about how much their athletes make in these types of deals — and there’s really no regulatory body that governs a requirement of disclosure — but it’s estimated that at Ohio State University alone, a total of $2.98 million has been paid to 220 athletes for more than 600 reported NIL activities since July 2021.

Those are quite impressive numbers, to say the least.

Let’s take a look at 14 NIL deals that we’re keeping our eye on, and that have closed since the new ruling took place.

1. J.R. Smith

Photo Credit: Sonja Flemming

As AfroTech previously reported, J.R. Smith is probably the most high-profile athlete to get in on the action.

According to ESPN, Smith — a freshman golfer and retired NBA guard — has just signed with Excel Sports for NIL representation. The news was announced by his agent, Lance Young.

But what’s interesting is, this new deal is specifically for his burgeoning golf career.

“Smith, 36, is beginning his second semester for the Aggies, and his emergence as perhaps the most well-known Division I golfer has inspired significant endorsement possibilities that could earn him well into the six figures under the NCAA’s new name, image and likeness legislation,” reports the outlet.

2. Hercy Miller

Courtesy of Hercy Miller

As AfroTech previously reported, the son of Percy “Master P” Miller got a little help from his father to close a $2.5 million NIL deal with a tech company.

“I signed a deal with an American technology company. Like my dad said, it’s a blessing,” Miller told TMZ Sports. “I learned from my dad, I’m gonna start off by giving back to the community and everyone around me. I have a camp July 21. [And] I’m giving back to the kids. Giving school supplies.”

By the Numbers: $2.5 million

3. Ky'Wuan Dukes

Courtesy of Bojangles

Johnson C. Smith University’s pride and joy, Ky’Wuan Dukes, became the first HBCU athlete to ink an NIL deal with a fast-food chain with his deal with Bojangles, AfroTech previously reported.

“We’re thrilled to have Ky’Wuan join Team Bojangles as the first HBCU athlete on our roster,” said chief brand and marketing officer at Bojangles, Jackie Woodward, in an official statement. “We look forward to continuing our partnerships with HBCUs and athletes throughout our footprint.”

By the Numbers: Unavailable

4. Kayvon Thibodeaux

Courtesy of Starface Skincare

As AfroTech previously reported, the top NFL prospect and the current defensive end has become the first male influencer for the indie skincare brand Starface.

“We believe young people of all genders and identities are affected by unrealistic beauty standards and stigmas, and we’re excited to partner with an athlete who is deeply connected to youth culture and an advocate for self-acceptance,” Kara Brothers, Starface’s president, said in a statement. “Our goal is to destigmatize and alleviate some of the difficulties of being a young person today (acne included) and we think Kayvon is the perfect person to help bring our message to life.”

Thibodeaux also has his own cryptocurrency.

By the Numbers: Unavailable

5. Jaden Rashada

Courtesy of Jaden Rashada

ESPN reports that the four-star quarterback prospect has signed a four-figure NIL deal with Athletes in Recruitment (AIR), a recruiting app. According to the outlet, the Pittsburg High School player is “believed to be the first high school football player to profit from endorsements,” AfroTech previously reported.

By the Numbers: $200,000 in education

6. Travis Hunter

Courtesy of 11Alive

When Travis Hunter committed to Jackson State University, AfroTech reported that his last-minute decision to switch may have netted him a seven-figure NIL deal.

“Rumors have been circulating about the five-star defensive back landing what’s said to be a seven-figure name, image, and likeness (NIL) deal with Barstool Sports and Penn National Gaming,” we reported.

By the Numbers: Unavailable, but rumored to be in the seven figures.

7. D'Eriq King

Photo Credit: Ross Dellenger

Now, this is also one of the more interesting NIL deals. D’Eriq King is a University of Miami quarterback who, as AfroTech previously reported, was one of the first college athletes to take advantage of the NCAA ruling in July 2021.

In the deal with the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Miami Panthers, King was said to begin working alongside the team to develop a merchandise collection, co-branded art as well as his own exclusive concession menu that will be available at all of the team’s home games and events during the season.

King’s deal is also said to include engaging with fans both online and in-person by attending Panthers games and events and producing digital content for social media.

By the Numbers: Unavailable

8. Quan Lee

Photo Credit: Andrew Ivins / 247sports

The University of Central Florida wide receiver has not one, not two, but three NIL deals, proving that he’s one of the hottest prospects in the sports industry today, according to Sports Illustrated. 

His most recent NIL deal was with Your Brand Voice, a digital marketing company in Orlando, FL. Prior to that, he signed a NIL deal with Travous Dever, a real estate agent in the area. And his first NIL deal came from JS2 Cattle Company, located in Geneva, FL.

Quan Lee also has his own moving company, called ACE Moving Company, so it sounds like he’ll be alright for some time.

By the Numbers: Unavailable.

9. Rayniah Jones

Courtesy of Addition Financial

As a track and field athlete for the University of Central Florida, Jones recently partnered with the credit union, Addition Financial, for a unique NIL deal.

“I partnered with Addition Financial because I think it’s important for college students to start learning about managing their finances responsibly. Through this partnership, I’m most excited to shed light on financial literacy for other students and help them learn these habits from a young age,” said Jones to the Seminole County Chamber of Commerce. 

By the Numbers: Unavailable

10. Michael DeVoe

Photo Credit: Jason Merideth

In January 2022, Georgia Tech point guard Michael DeVoe signed a NIL deal with personal injury firm Morgan & Morgan. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the NIL deal allows him to appear on the billboards of the attorney’s offices, which are mostly located near the main campus.

“Michael Devoe is an absolute powerhouse, and we are thrilled to partner with him and support his promising career,” Morgan & Morgan founder John Morgan said in a statement to the outlet. “Like our previous NIL partnerships, we’re hopeful this campaign will connect us with new audiences while providing an additional platform to showcase Michael’s incredible talent.”

By the Numbers: Unavailable

11. Ga'Quincy 'Kool-Aid' McKinstry

Photo Credit: Touch Down Alabama Magazine / Kool-Aid

As AfroTech previously reported, sometimes taking the nickname of a popular brand will pay off for you.

Alabama Crimson Tide freshman Ga’Quincy McKinstry’s NIL deal was a full-circle moment. From his childhood to his collegiate career, his nickname has been “Kool-Aid.” Then, he partnered with the drink company itself.

By the Numbers: Unavailable

12. Kayshon Butte

Courtesy of Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys

According to USA Today, Kayshon Butte — who plays football with LSU — announced that he’d signed a NIL deal in January 2022 with attorney Gordon McKernan, who is based in Baton Rouge, LA.

“Gordon is a great man looking to help out the LSU football program and its players. Very excited to work with Big G and see what the future holds,” Boutte said in a press release on Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys’ website.

By the Numbers: Unavailable

13. Shedur Sanders

Courtesy of Gatorade

The son of legendary football player Deion Sanders, Shedeur Sanders plays football as a quarterback for Jackson State University. After inking an NIL deal with Beats by Dre, Shedur inked an NIL deal with Gatorade, making him the first player from an HBCU to make an NIL deal with the sports beverage company.

By the Numbers: Unavailable.

14. Mikey Williams

Courtesy of Puma

As AfroTech previously reported, 17-year-old Mikey Williams was signed to a NIL deal with PUMA while he was still in high school. Although he’s not eligible for the NBA draft until 2024, Williams’ deal was historic in that he became the first American high school basketball player to sign a sneaker deal with a global footwear company, ESPN reports.

By the Numbers: Unavailable