Billy Napier Sidesteps Jaden Rashada Questions, Touts Florida’s NIL Structure Without Concern About NCAA Investigation

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When all is said and done, Jaden Rashada’s recruitment will serve as a historic moment in time within college football. The five-star quarterback prospect made it official with Arizona State on Wednesday after a wild six months, and Florida head coach Billy Napier has no hard feelings toward his former commit.

No bad blood between Billy Napier and Jaden Rashada. Publicly, at least.
(Photo by Chris Leduc/Icon Sportswire, Carly Mackler/Getty Images)

Rashada, a California-native, committed to Miami back in July. His decision reportedly came with a lucrative NIL deal in the $9 million range, but “left millions on the table.

Ultimately, though, Rashada recouped that money. Temporarily, at least.

Rashada decommitted from Miami on Nov. 10, 2022 and signed with Florida during the Early Signing Period. The flip came with a $4 million “pay bump” and a new NIL agreement with the Gator Collective worth $13 million.

Until it didn’t. The money fell through.

As a result, just a few weeks before National Signing Day, Rashada asked to be released from his National Letter of Intent with Florida. The Gator later granted his request.

With a $13 million NIL deal in his rearview mirror, Rashada needed to find a new home and fast. He turned closer to home and ended up at Arizona State, which raises a question about money in Tempe.

Meanwhile, down in Gainesville, there are questions surrounding the fallout. The NCAA is trying to start cracking down on the role of NIL in recruiting and the chaos surrounding the current landscape.

Could Florida get in trouble over the Jaden Rashada situation?

Should the NCAA decide to look into Rashada’s recruitment — from Miami to Florida to ASU — it could flip over some stones that neither the Hurricanes nor Gators want to have flipped. There is also a chance that the Rashada party could get litigious.

That would be an even worse look for Florida and/or the Gator Collective, which already has metaphorical egg on its face.

Head coach Billy Napier made it clear on Wednesday that he does not foresee the NCAA getting involved, which could prove very wrong. In the meantime, he is focused on what he can control.

His program signed a top-15 program in the recent cycle. That doesn’t mean that Napier isn’t frustrated.

I think every college football coach would tell you they’re frustrated. We’re living in a fluid dynamic. There’s a lot of good things about NIL, but I think the combination of the NIL and the portal creates a dynamic.

We’re all aware of the issues and the parameters we’re competing in at this point. I think as time goes, the market will settle down.

— Billy Napier on National Signing Day

Billy Napier stood by Florida’s NIL structure.

Despite success with this year’s class, a cloud continues to loom over Gainesville after the Rashada fallout. Napier was unable to get into specifics during Wednesday’s press conference, but said that Florida’s positioning within the NIL space is one that he sees as a strength.

I wish we could get into specifics, but we’re not allowed to. The reality is the current structure of NIL with third parties being involved, with agents being involved, with marketing representatives, with lawyers, with collectives, very fluid and I think a very unique dynamic.

We’re living in a time in college athletics that we’ll look back upon. I think ultimately NIL is a strength for the Gators. We’re very pleased with where we’re at relative to our current players, all the athletes and what we’ve been able to accomplish in a short amount of time.

— Billy Napier on National Signing Day

He later doubled down.

I can only speak on our current team, the current athletes that we have – not only in football but a lot of sports have benefitted. We have a ton of strengths in that area. We live in a state with 21 million people; we’ve got half a million living alumni; we’re surrounded by huge markets. I think our players have benefitted from that.

— Billy Napier on National Signing Day

Napier also made it clear that he has nothing but respect for Rashada and his family.

The Gators could be in for a rude awakening.

All-in-all, the 43-year-old, second-year head coach is comfortable with how he and his program approach the entire process.

I think you spend your entire life, your entire career trying to establish who you are and how you operate. I think, ultimately, I can lay my head down at night based off of that. … Ultimately, the good thing here is I have a lot of confidence with our leadership, strategy that we’re deploying, how it’s benefitting our team — the group of players we have on our team. I think we’re going about it the right way.

— Billy Napier on National Signing Day

Although Napier says that he can sleep at night and doesn’t expect NCAA involvement, Rashada’s recruitment is unprecedented and captivating. If the family or the NCAA turns its aim toward Florida, this unique matter of circumstance that led the five-star to Arizona State could be what changes the way in which NIL factors into recruiting all together. It could be the chance to set an example.

Stay tuned, this saga has not reached its conclusion!

Written by Grayson Weir

Grayson doesn't drink coffee. He wakes up Jacked.


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