On Wednesday history was made when the No.1 ranked football player in the Class of 2022, Travis Hunter committed to Jackson State, a HBCU (Historically Black College) where he’ll play for NFL legend Deion Sanders over Florida State. Hunter’s decision stunned many people that there were rumors that Sanders and Jackson State paid Hunter $1.5 million dollars but Sanders quickly denied the rumors.
So why is Hunter such a high profile prospect? Well, he is a dynamic, 6-foot-1, defensive back/wide receiver from Suwanee, Georgia, in the Atlanta suburbs who could have attended any school in the country but chose to choose an HBCU.
This will be the first class that can profit off name, image, and likeness deals and Hunter has made himself a massive star and perhaps even a trailblazer for future top recruits to choose HBCU’s over powerhouses such as Alabama, Georgia, and Florida State, just to name a few.
It isn’t always about signing with a name-brand school, or being another star (or even the highest-rated star) on a star-studded roster. It’s about being the biggest deal on a presumed smaller stage by offering entree for businesses to a specific community and getting fan bases to pay for something that they otherwise couldn’t get anywhere else.
The NIL deal has been a success for the NCAA, which was long overdue in letting these student athletes get paid on their athletic abilities and has allowed for a diversity of schools to be able to get top prospects. The more recruits realize how valuable they are and how the college landscape has been altered due to the NIL deal, the more stories we will have such as Hunter’s.
So here’s a No.1 player taking a route less traveled. Can he prove to be a successor and become a trailblazer for generations to follow? Or will it be a decision that will come back to bite him? We shall see beginning next fall.