In the past, once a high school prospect signed an endorsement deal, it prohibited him from participating on the collegiate level. However, in the NIL era, things aren't quite as cut-and-dry.
Take for instance Tampa (Fla.) Hillsborough athlete Erriyon Knighton. At one time the Olympic speedster was considered to be one of the premiere football prospects in the Sunshine State. Then, back in January, the 16-year old signed with Adidas, giving up his eligibility to play high school athletics.
After finishing fourth in the Tokyo Olympics in the Men's 200, the 6-foot, 165-pound sprinter returned home not really sure that he had football completely out of his system.
“I don't really know what the situation is going to be with the NIL,” explained Knighton. “Are they going to allow professional athletes in? Because I was making money with track, can I play football? I really don't know all that stuff. But if the NIL allows it, and I feel like it's the best decision for me, I'll probably go back [to playing football too]. I don't really know how that's going to work until I get someone to speak with someone who knows about the NIL.”
While the legalities of it get figured out, Knighton said that he has college coaches keeping in contact with him.
“Alabama, they don't reach out as much, but I hear from them every once in a while. Florida, Oklahoma, Georgia.”
Knighton said that Florida's area recruiter, linebacker coach Christian Robinson is one of the coaches who contacts him the most.
“Coach Robinson is the main person I talk to from Florida. He basically said they are still interested in me if I can come back and play football. All the coaches are all saying that they feel the same way they did from the start,” said Knighton.
Because of the uncertainty surrounding his 'professional status' Knighton is unable to take official visits for now, but that doesn't mean he can't visit campuses on his own dime.
He was actually scheduled to attend Florida's game against Alabama on an unofficial visit but something came up. However, he said he has another game already in mind.
“I was going to that game [UF-UA], but I couldn't make it. I had a business meeting that popped up,” said Knighton. “I'm trying to go see Florida-Georgia play.”
With whether or not he will be able to play college football still up in the air, Knighton said that he has no plans to sign anywhere and will simply allow the process to play out before he gets too serious about looking at potential destinations.