Jaden Rashada will not be attending the University of Florida.
According to multiple reports, the four-star quarterback has asked for his scholarship release from the school. Rashada signed with Florida during the early signing period and was expected to enroll in Gainesville in January after he played in the Under Armour All-American game earlier this month. That didn’t happen.
Why? It could have something to do with name, image and likeness payments. Per multiple reports, Rashada had an agreement with an NIL collective for an endorsement deal contingent upon signing with the Gators. According to The Athletic, the NIL deal with the collective was agreed to in November and had a maximum value of $13 million.
But that max value was reportedly well beyond the means of the collective’s financial ability. The deal then soon reportedly crumbled.
Rashada was listed as one of Florida’s early signees in December but word started to spread as soon as he signed that he may not make it to campus.
Rashada will be free to sign with another school when Florida officially releases him from a scholarship. Could Miami be in play? Rashada was committed to the Hurricanes before flipping to Florida and Miami QB Jake Garcia reportedly entered the transfer portal on Monday.
The 4-star recruit is the No. 84 prospect in the country and the No. 7 recruit in the state of California. He’s also the No. 7 pro-style quarterback in the class of 2023 and would immediately be an extremely coveted recruit. When Rashada is released from his scholarship, he’ll be the only member of the pro-style QB top 25 in the class of 2023 not signed to a school.
Rashada was one of the top players in a Florida recruiting class that ranked No. 13, according to Rivals, after the early signing period. Florida will drop a few spots when Rashada is no longer a part of the class and that class won’t have a quarterback in it unless a replacement for Rashada is found.
That’s a big deal for a Florida roster that needs someone who could be the long-term answer at the position. 2022 starter Anthony Richardson declared for the NFL draft and his backup Jalen Kitna is no longer on the team after an arrest on child pornography charges. Ohio State transfer Jack Miller started the Las Vegas Bowl blowout loss to Oregon State after not seeing the field at all during the season.
The Gators added former Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz in the transfer portal. He has two years of eligibility remaining but regressed in his time with the Badgers. After completing 61% of his passes in seven games as a freshman in 2020, Mertz completed 57% of his passes in 2022 and threw more interceptions than touchdowns in 2021.
A high-profile example of an NIL pitfall
Rashada’s situation is also the biggest example of the pitfalls associated with college athletics’ new endorsement reality. Players and their families need to be extremely skeptical of big promises from donors and others offering endorsement deals. There are some large dollar figures being thrown around when it comes to endorsement deals, and it’s safe to believe those inflated numbers are a bit like NFL contracts — the real value of the deal is likely a lot lower than the top-line number.
And if what is being reported around Rashada’s deal is true, a collective’s inability to deliver on a big promise cost the Gators a top recruit.