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Gatlin Bair may be the fastest high school football player in the country, but there is an interesting caveat to his recruitment and NIL is involved. The Class of 2024 recruit is actually part of the Class of 2026.
Bair, a four-star prospect from a town of 11,000 in Idaho, has offers from more than 25 programs. Boise State, Michigan, Nebraska, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Oregon, Texas, BYU and Utah are among them.
Not only is he a talent on the gridiron, Bair is amongst the fastest high schoolers in the country. He ran a 10.18-second 100-meter dash at the end of March, which is the second-fastest time amongst high schoolers this year, as a junior. It would have placed sixth at last year’s NCAA championship.
Although Bair would be an instant boost to any college roster, schools are going to have to wait to get him on campus. And not just because he has another year of high school.
Bair is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He will take a two-year mission after high school before attending an institute of higher learning and playing college football.
While the recruitment of a Mormon missionary is not uncommon, Tanner McKee being the most recent example, it makes things more tricky. Especially considering potential coaching turnover between now and 2026.
The modern era of collegiate athletics also adds an interesting wrinkle. Name, Image and Likeness opportunities are crucial in recruiting.
Although NIL money is not the only thing for every recruit, it certainly helps sweeten the deal. Schools, through their collectives, that can offer the largest compensatory packages often land the best talent.
Gatlin Bair’s college football recruitment has been unique.
Bair’s high school coach, Cameron Andersen, has seen first-hand how money plays a role in recruiting.
As one coach put it to me — I won’t tell you who — but one of them said, ‘Coach, speed is expensive.’— Cameron Andersen, via The Athletic
Bigger schools have straight-up told Andersen that Boise State, one of Bair’s top choices, cannot afford him. That’s how crucial NIL has become.
The Athletic says that money is “playing very little to no role” in Bair’s decision, and mentioned how he shut down a few schools because of how they were going about the process. That isn’t stopping programs who have Bair on their radar from getting creative.
Some of the interested suitors have even suggested finding a legal, NCAA-compliant way to help Bair on/throughout his mission.
LDS missions cost money. It’s not like you go on a mission and the Church pays for it. You’ve gotta pay for all those things. But that’s been offers from places, beginning in that scope. That would be an absolute blessing for him and his family. They’re not afraid to collect off legitimate means of making money off his NIL.— Cameron Andersen, via The Athletic
Think about that for a second. College football programs have floated the idea that they (read: their collectives) could help to fund a four-star recruit’s LDS mission in an effort of receiving his commitment.
NIL has changed the entire landscape of the sport and Bair’s recruitment is just the latest example.