When the calendar turned to July, college athletes could legally make money on their Name, Image and Likeness for the first time. Once the NIL floodgates opened, it was the talk of the college football world, at least on television, radio shows and podcasts. That was not necessarily the case in football locker room at the University of Kentucky.
Darian Kinnard could have heard his name called in the 2021 NFL Draft. Instead of cashing in professionally, the All-SEC offensive tackle could cash in while in college with various NIL deals. He’s not in a hurry to ink a contract any time soon.
“It’s my last year. If this came out maybe two years ago it could have been something I could have gotten into,” Kinnard said. “With this last year coming up, at the end of the season we’ll look back and say it flew. I’m just taking this opportunity to focus on what I need to do and NIL can wait until I’m out of college.”
Kinnard does not plan on pursuing any NIL deals this fall, although the big boy wouldn’t mind finding a way to snag a few free meals. “Why wouldn’t we want a little food sponsorship here and there?”
Throughout the summer many have shared concerns that NIL deals could create strife within locker rooms. If the offensive line is being fed mountains of free barbecue every Sunday, surely somebody is envious on the defensive line. Josh Paschal does not believe it’s anything new to football teams.
“If you think about it, guys in any locker room across any where, guys will get upset over playing time or anything like that. It’s not uncommon for any college football team to have jealousies on their team, but at the same team we know to separate the NIL from the football field,” said the defensive end.
“At the end of the day, we’re a family. We want the best for each and every one of our brothers on the NIL side, but at the facility it’s strictly ball. We know that and I feel like we’re doing a great job separating the two.”
Like Kinnard, making money with NIL deals is on the back-burner for Paschal. What’s more important is what’s happening on the football field each and every Saturday this fall.
“I’m just approaching it as it comes. It’s not something I’m really really chasing. At the end of the day I’m still a student-athlete at the University of Kentucky. We have a common goal on this team. Our goals for the year aren’t any NIL goals, it’s just strictly football. We all want to be the best and we want to play at our best as a team. I feel like that’s the mojo of the team right now.”