Ohio State Buckeyes: Name, image, likeness legislation could result in unexpected addition for 2021 team

College athletes’ profiting off their name, image and likeness was a hot topic during Big Ten Media Days.

Less than a week later, a still-evolving issue took on an even different look with the news Ohio State’s top recruit for 2022 might skip his senior season in order to cash in.

“I’m leaning toward leaving and going up to Ohio just so I don’t have to deal with (University Interscholastic League) stuff and can get comfortable with Ohio and Columbus and start to learn,” Quinn Ewers told Yahoo!Sports.

The UIL is Texas’ version of the OHSAA, and its deputy director Jamey Harrison told Yahoo a recent change in state law prohibits allowing Ewers from accepting NIL offers while he is still a high school student.

As the quarterback of Southlake Caroll High School — one of the more storied programs in the Longhorn State — Ewers not surprisingly is a hot commodity on the endorsement market.

His offers include a local tea company offering cash and equity as well as national brands, per the report, but are those more valuable than the once-in-a-lifetime chance to win a state championship at a big-time program in a football-mad state?

That is the dilemma Ewers faces.

“If I enroll at Ohio State, obviously I’d be able to make money off the deals, and I feel like it’d be a big advantage of learning the playbook and getting comfortable with the campus and all my teammates,” Ewers said. “But if I stay and don’t get paid, I may be able to win a state title.”

Only one credit, which could be obtained via an online course, stands between Ewers and being able to join Ohio State in time for the start of preseason camp Tuesday.

Were that to happen, he would likely be a longshot to win the vacant starting job.

He would be more than a year behind redshirt freshmen C.J. Stroud and Jack Miller III and about six months behind true freshman Kyle McCord in terms of learning the offense, but the experience gap is much smaller. Stroud and Miller only saw a handful of snaps last season, and neither of them have thrown a pass in a college game. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they also saw far fewer practice reps than a normal season.

As far as NIL at Ohio State, the three Buckeyes who were in Indianapolis for Big Ten Media Days all expressed thankfulness for the opportunity to make money for themselves and a desire to take it slow as far as cashing in.

“I am excited about it, but it’s something that you don’t just want to jump into without having all your things aligned,” said junior defensive end Zach Harrison, who like Ewers was a five-star prospect coming out of high school. “You don’t just want to run into things because that’s how you get in trouble. That’s how you get caught up.”

Fifth-year senior left tackle Thayer Munford said players were getting used to the new opportunities, “But it also depends on the leaders as well. Like all right, the NIL stuff is off to the side, focus on the team now. You always gotta focus on the team first before yourself.”

“For people like myself or people that came from nothing, it’s a great opportunity to actually have money in our pockets to actually give back to our families.”

Tight end Jeremy Ruckert, a senior from Long Island, endorsed a delivery service on first day players could begin to profit, but he indicated in Indianapolis he was more interested in maximizing his NFL potential over the next few months.

“I’m not really sure I want to just go full-steam into it when we have this big season coming up,” Rucker said. “It’s my last year so I’m chasing the bigger check.”

About the Author