Shedeur Sanders, Colorado’s newest quarterback has gained major attention after a nine-school record breaking game Saturday, September 2, 2023, against TCU.1 Sanders’s most impressive record was he put up 510 yards, 38/47 passes and 4 touchdowns in a single game, passing up the previous record of 474 yards set over 10 years ago, in 2011.
Sanders’s initial NIL value prior to Saturday was around 1.3 million. Post-game, Sanders’s NIL value was 3.8 million. That’s a 2.5 million jump, putting him at the number 2 spot, shown on On3.2 Sanders surpassed 5-star prospect Arch Manning on On3, in just a single game performance.3
This is not Shadeur Sanders first time playing under his dad as coach. Sanders in his early years played for a Christian school in Texas for which his father was the offensive coordinator.4 Coming out of high school, Sanders was a four-star prospect who initially committed to play for Florida Atlantic, despite many offers from other notable schools such as FSU, Georgia, and Alabama, after his dad was named the head coach for Jackson State.5 At Jackson State, he was named the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) freshman of the year as well as the most outstanding freshman in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Division I Championship Subdivision; he was the first player from an HBCU to win this award.6 In his sophomore year, he was named SWAC offensive player of the year and awarded the Deacon Jones Trophy as the nation’s top HBCU player.7 He then joined the transfer portal after the 2022 Celebration Bowl, ultimately leading him to join his dad in Colorado.8
What does this tell us about NIL? It is interesting to see the different standpoints in which players’ NIL value increases. The Colorado football team had a lot of eyes watching them because of Deion Sanders and the new coaching staff and players that were brought in from various backgrounds. The outcome of the game against the runner up National Champions TCU team is what made their performance even more outstanding. It showed everyone they are equally comparable and can hold their own, which is what many people were doubting. It seems as if NIL value spikes based off performance of an athlete as well as their team, as there are only a couple comparable athletes whose NIL value have jumped that much after a single game performance.
It is as if NIL value is driven both by the audience and the player’s athleticism, but is that truly how it should be? We can see a connection between the broadcasting of the game and the audience versus non broadcasted games and their audience. When games are shown, and players excel, NIL collectives are watching and taking notes on new prospects as they are aware that the player is a “hot player” and would therefore be able to draw more attention to whatever their brand may be. This is clear in our case as I previously noted Sanders did well at Jackson State, but that team was not getting as much press as Colorado is, so his talents were essentially shadowed, compared to what he is showing now at Colorado. This is where we get into issues with NIL as there is a sense of unfairness for teams that are not widely broadcasted as it creates unequal opportunity. When Shadeur was at Jackson State, his name was not even in the NIL top 100, as soon as he switched to Colorado, a larger known school, his name was now in the talks. NIL values of athletes who attend a HBCU are not receiving as much attention compared to PWI’s and larger schools.