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A Prime Transformation: Inside Deion Sanders' Thriving NIL Ecosystem

September 20, 2023

The University of Colorado and college football fans everywhere are newly electrified, thanks to former NFL all-pro Deion Sanders—affectionately known as Coach Prime—and his dazzling transformation of the Buffaloes into the hottest ticket in the NCAA, since becoming head coach in December 2022. Fresh off a thrilling 43–35 victory against in-state rivals Colorado State last Sunday, Coach Prime and his team are set to face off against the Oregon Ducks in what promises to be an action-packed showdown as ABC's “Game of the Week” on September 23rd. 

Having won just one game last season, the team is already 3–0—a storybook turnaround that is helping fuel the NIL valuations of Deion’s son Shedeur, the Buffaloes’ quarterback phenom, and star two-way player Travis Hunter to nearly $6M combined—the current average annual salary of an NFL QB. 

Shedeur Sanders leads NCAAF in NIL valuation with a portfolio worth a whopping $4.1M—following a meteoric $2.8M surge since the season kick-off on August 26th—and ranks second in NIL deal volume among college football players. Shedeur’s followings on Instagram and X (formerly Twitter) have each increased 18% since Week 1, on the heels of 73% growth on Instagram and a doubling of his X followers in the last year. His TikTok following has also swelled 43% since the season began, translating to YoY growth of some 65%. 

Shedeur's NIL profile soared last year as quarterback at Jackson State University, where Deion—formerly JSU’s football coach since September 2020—led the team to an undefeated regular season. After adding 14 new deals to bring his roster to 17 in 2022, he’s already inked another seven NIL partnerships this year, most recently Urban Outfitters. Given his stellar start to the season, expect his NIL stable—which also includes Actively Black, Beats by Dre, Brady Brand, Gatorade, KFC, and Oikos—to only expand. 

Meanwhile, Travis Hunter’s $1.8M NIL valuation—which has spiked 20% since the season’s start as his influence grows—ranks him fourth in NCAAF and fifth by number of deals among NIL football athletes. His Instagram following has climbed 43% since Week 1—helping to nearly double his followers in the last year—while his X followers have increased 15%, propelling 87% YoY growth. He’s also steadily growing his profile on TikTok, where his following has risen 12% in the last three weeks and roughly 28% over the last year. Since Deion took the reins in Boulder, Travis has signed nine deals—Actively Black, Celsius, and Hey Dude Shoes among them–including five in 2023. 

Deion Sanders, a fabled football legend in his own right, has seen a 14% increase in Instagram followers since Week 1. Having partnered with Aflac and Gillette since 2021, he’s inked eight new deals in the past nine months with Avocados From Mexico, Blenders Eyewear, California Almonds, Chevrolet, IcyBreeze, KFC, Nike, and What If Collective. The launch of the limited-edition Blenders Eyewear x Coach Prime sunglasses collection, announced earlier this week and slated for October 12th, has already generated $4.5M in pre-orders, including $1.2M on September 17th alone. 

(Note: NIL valuation sourced by On3 Sports)

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