HOOVER, Ala. –– It’s been nearly three weeks since name, image, and likeness legislation changed the college sports landscape, though Florida defensive end Zachary Carter is in no hurry to get his name signed on every single dashed line.
After all, the introduction of NIL legislation is still in its infancy – much is still unknown in terms of the long-term effects on players and programs.
Carter is far from alone when it comes to feeling in the dark – just take it from his head coach.
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“I think there is a learning curve that we are working on right now. I don’t know if there is a competitive advantage that has not yet prevailed. You look at a state law, and every time it comes to a state law, you have to bring in a couple of lawyers. So I’m still learning all this aspect of what’s real and how far the law goes and how to maneuver within the law to get things right, ”said Gators trainer Dan Mullen. “I speak to my finance team to make sure we stay within those limits, but let’s make sure we take advantage of the various laws that are in place there.
“We are constantly trying to check what is tax law? What is the investment law? What is your retirement like? How are these different things set up? There’s every law out there. This is a state law we’re learning about how to move around inside to maximize what we can help our players. ”
Like Mullen and many of his teammates, Carter takes a wait and see approach, but that doesn’t mean he’s been idle and missed potentially lucrative opportunities.
Damn skeptics, companies have lined up to make deals with student athletes.
“It really started on July 1st when we had this NIL meeting and they started talking about, ‘It’s official, Florida law, boys can get paid now,’ and it was like, ‘Wow, Guys can be paid now ‘. “Said Carter. “I’m still trying to figure out the rules and stuff. The rules still apply and it’s only been a few weeks so everyone is still trying to get familiar with this NIL stuff because it comes together a lot. “
Carter wasted no time getting his shot either. On his Twitter account, Carter reached out to his favorite restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill, but a partnership never came about – at least not yet.
But Carter has settled with another restaurant in Gainesville, and he also has equipment and goods on the way, all in less than three weeks. And this is considered a cautious approach, mind you.
“Personally, I have some merchandise on the way. I should have it ready by the season, “Carter said,” and I’ve been in contact with a number of companies in Gainesville and at home (Tampa) and reached out to a few companies. Lots of food types because I love food. I have a couple of deals with a couple of restaurants like I signed with the Vale Food Company. ”
If you’ve had a Vale acai bowl, Carter says, you know why the partnership came about.
Ultimately, despite being student-athletes in a nationally renowned program, social media plays an important role in landing partnerships, both small and large. Suddenly Twitter and TikTok are more valuable goods than distraction or even vice for athletes; Tweets and videos could bring food to the table and heat athletes’ homes across the country, which means managing social media profiles and images has never been more valuable.
Even if that might be a tiresome subject for Carter at the moment. The former four-star prospect had a verified Twitter account early in his UF career before his account was hacked, which forced him to start from scratch and rebuild his image. The coveted blue check has yet to return, its follower count pales in comparison to its original one, and it is far from the only one.
Florida’s security Trey Dean had also hacked his account, and the person targeted those who followed Dean, including former UF security agency Ahmad Black, who lost his account for several weeks before they managed to restore it.
And most recently, UF quarterback Emory Jones’ Instagram page was temporarily hacked, which may seem trivial until you realize that Jones has more than 52,000 followers on the platform.
“I had a pretty good following on Twitter, but I hacked them and couldn’t get them back,” Carter recalls. “It’s crazy, but social media, it’s 2021, it’s going to be a big deal and it can be harmful, but it can also be used to help and really build your platform.”
Fortunately for Carter and his teammates, they’re not alone when it comes to going the avenues and potential pitfalls.
“Compliance helps with a lot of things. If you have any questions, we can contact Compliance. You know NIL best, ”Carter said. “You know, our coaches are still studying and stuff, but when we had a team meeting they were assuming a UAA package so we have to go through all the questions through the UAA and stuff.”
Those who are expected to suddenly have all the answers are just as lost as those who seek their guidance.
Carter put it best: welcome to 2021, where student athletes have never had more incentive to sit in front of a screen than to exercise.
This is where Carter, a Redshirt senior and leader in Florida’s locker room, feels at odds. With 17-18 year olds deciding how much time to devote to building short-term, but potentially necessary, wealth, will there be a decline in development or production? Since it’s the off-season, it remains to be seen, although it’s a topic on the forefront of many people’s minds.
“The way I see it, it’s easy to take advantage of. I think we deserve to take advantage of our name, image, and likeness, but the most important thing is that you don’t get too caught up in your business out of the field and get too focused on these things focus, ”Carter said. “Because at the end of the day it’s NIL money. You could make some money, but if you do the right things and make it into the NFL, it probably doesn’t compare to that money. “
So far, coaches seem to have been promoting a similar line.
When Desmond Watson was promoting Florida Defensive Tackles on his Twitter account that he was streaming Call of Duty: Warzone, Defensive Line coach David Turner made a joke at his expense and replied, “Instead of doing some Warzone How about just getting out there and RUNNING? “- a harmless joke that indicates real concern.
Carter’s approach remains the same: wait and see, but keep working. Though time will tell, Carter’s continued growth as a leader means he must help prepare the future in Florida while navigating the unknown on his own.
“It may be more difficult for young people,” Carter concludes, “but I want to help them understand.”