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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

"NIL Is A Thing" Notre Dame Needs To Account For

December 15, 2021

It’s here.

Well, it’s been here since June, but the Name, Image, Likeness policy that was enacted by the NCAA over the summer made its presence felt in a major way the very first National Signing Day after its enactment.

Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin wasn’t afraid to explain exactly how when he spoke to the media earlier in the week.

"I don't think people really say it this way, but let's not make a mistake, we have free agency in college football," Kiffin said on Tuesday. "The kids, a lot of times, go to where they're going to get paid the most. No one else is saying that, maybe, but the kids say, 'This is what I'm getting here for NIL.’

“It is what it is. Free agency has been created in college football…except you can’t lock people into a contract. They can go at any time. It’s the new world that we’re in. Sometimes they want to come to you, but say, ‘Hey, I get this much money if I go there.’ This is just a whole, whole new thing to deal with.”

On the national level, the biggest news on National Signing Day was Travis Hunter’s flip from Florida State to Jackson State. The cornerback from Georgia isn’t just an elite prospect. He isn’t even just a five-star prospect. He’s literally the #1 overall prospect in the entire country, according to Rivals and 247.

Now, Deion Sanders is good, but he ain’t that good.

Multiple sources told Irish Sports Daily earlier in the week that NIL was impacting Notre Dame’s ability to close out its own class. According to those sources, at least one prospect was in the position Kiffin outlined above and ultimately chose to go elsewhere.

While NIL is now within the rules, it’s not within the rules for a school to arrange or make any promises of potential NIL agreements.

During his press conference on Wednesday, Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman said that’s a line he won’t cross.

“We can't say we're providing this Name, Image, and Likeness deal for you,” Freeman told reporters. “We know it's real, and they know we have a plan to try to help promote it, but we can't break the rules, and we won't break the rules.”

Pressed on the fact that not all programs seem to be abiding by those rules, Freeman was firm.

“We do things the Notre Dame way,” he said. “I've told this staff that we're going to do everything we do with integrity and do it the right way, and we're going to win by outworking people.

“That's going to be our mindset in football. That's going to be our mindset in recruiting. We're going to outwork our opponents. I don't want to do anything that has to do with breaking the rules.”

Irish recruiting coordinator Mike Elston confirmed “NIL is a thing” and explained how the Irish plan to use it to their advantage moving forward.

“Without guaranteeing them and breaking the rules, we have to show them how our guys are taking advantage of that,” said Elston.  “It’s not breaking a rule to show them that Kyle Hamilton is one of the highest-paid defensive players through NIL.

“Whether he is or whether he isn’t, we have to be able to showcase what we’re doing, what our guys are able to do and capitalize on that, so that we’re not losing players just because money is flying into their pocket from somewhere else.”

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