In another sign that the NCAA allowing players to cash in on their names, images and likenesses will change the sport of football, the top high school quarterback in the country is considering leaving high school now rather than playing his senior season so that he can start making NIL money immediately.
Quinn Ewers, who is widely viewed as the best high school quarterback in the country, may not play his senior season at Southlake Carroll in suburban Dallas. Instead, he may go directly to Ohio State, where he can start making NIL money now. If he stayed in high school in Texas, the state’s rules would prevent him, as a high school athlete, from accepting any NIL money.
“I don’t really know, I don’t have a final decision made quite yet,” Ewers told Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports. “I’m leaning toward leaving and going up to Ohio, just so I don’t have to deal with [Texas state regulation] stuff and can get comfortable with Ohio and Columbus and start to learn.”
Ewers only has to complete one more class to fulfill his high school graduation requirements, and he can take that class online. He could then enroll immediately at Ohio State and be eligible to play in the 2021 season. He had been planning to play in high school in 2021 and begin college in 2022, but the NIL money is tempting him to leave now.
“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. But if I stay and don’t get paid, I may be able to win a state title,” Ewers said.
Enrolling at Ohio State this year would provide Ewers with another advantage: He could enter the NFL a year earlier. NFL rules require a player to be three years out of high school before he can enter the NFL draft. If Ewers goes to Ohio State this year, he would have the opportunity to turn pro as soon as the 2024 NFL draft. If he waits to go to Ohio State until next year, he couldn’t be drafted until 2025 at the earliest.
Ewers is the first high-profile player to consider a significant change to his career trajectory because of name, image and likeness opportunities. He surely won’t be the last.