The Wolverines will be vying to win their first college football national championship title since 1997 against Washington. After a storming year that has seen them remain unbeaten, their stock has inevitably risen. See below as we list Michigan players with the highest NIL valuation to see who is the program’s leading earner.
What is an NIL Valuation?
Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) has been the cause of much controversy in the world of college athletes, but there is no denying the foundations it can build for those who decide against the professional route.
Athletes are still prevented from receiving direct compensation from their institutions, but they are now free to cultivate new partnerships with brands and sponsors in order to make money from their own image.
First and foremost, it must be stated that an NIL valuation doesn’t serve as a true indication of the value of endorsement deals. Rather, it provides a rounded picture of their value as an athlete.
In other words, NIL valuations take two key factors into consideration; an athlete’s social media presence and their current level of performance.
Using that, we can determine which college football players are the most marketable, and as such, command the largest NIL deals.
With than in mind, let’s take a look at who tops the charts for Michigan ahead of their national championship final with Washington.
Top 5 Michigan Players With the Highest NIL Valuation
It is worth noting that Michigan, being one of college football‘s leading programs, have a collection of some of the highest NIL valuations in the country.
For a school that was initially an NIL-sceptic, Michigan and its players have embraced the blue collar approach, realising that the system benefits those who show up and perform week-in-week-out.
5. Colston Loveland – Tight End
Colston Loveland, who at 19-year-old has already bulked up to become a receiver-turned-tight end, sneaks into the top five after a strong sophomore year in Michigan.
His social media presence has grown to around 35,000 followers as a result, although as you will see further up the list, this is a relatively small fanbase.
Nevertheless, Loveland has sought to strike endorsement deals with a host of brands, including 140-year-old boot company Wolverine – which of course is fitting as the team’s namesake.
Other partnerships include M Den – the official merchandise retailer of the Wolverines – as well as Momentous, who are a company focused on brain health in military personnel and athletes.
- NIL Valuation: $458,000
- Social Media Following: 35,000
4. Roman Wilson – Wide Receiver
Much like Loveland, receiver Roman Wilson was among a host of Michigan athletes to partner with M Den.
Now entering his fourth year, the Wolverines senior and Hawaii native has established himself as one of the finest receivers in college football. He has taken that to new heights with a career best in receptions, yards and touchdowns in 2023, clinching the vital red zone score to send the semi-final with Alabama to overtime.
— Michigan Football on UMGoBlue (@UMGoBlog) January 5, 2024
Wilson has also partnered with Accelerator Active Energy, Fortnite, Drip House Coffee, Aloha United Way, and most recently Crocs, which was the culmination of two years of trying to strike a deal with his ‘favorite shoe brand.’
- NIL Valuation: $501,000
- Social Media Following: 154,000
3. Mike Sainristil – Cornerback
Once a lightly recruited wide receiver, Mike Sainristil has transformed his career since undertaking a positional overhaul, which now seems him line-up as the unsung cornerback hero.
Now a senior, there are early rumblings of NFL prospects, although much rests on seeing out his college career with a title.
In the meantime, Sainristil was one of 13 Michigan athletes to also partner with boot manufacturer Wolverine, along with Fortnite, BRADY, WeUpNow Gaming and Next Gen Camps among others.
- NIL Valuation: $585,000
- Social Media Following: 87,000
2. Blake Corum – Running Back
Blake Corum just manages to squeeze into the overall NIL top 40, which takes into account all schools and college sports.
That should tell you all you need to know about the Michigan senior, who recently picked up the Big Ten running back of the year for the second straight season, just as the likes of Jonathan Taylor and Saquon Barkely did before him.
With over 1,000 yards and 25 touchdowns to his name this season, his stock has risen significantly and with running backs an undervalued position in the NFL, teams will inevitably come calling.
In terms of NIL endorsement, Corum is partnered with well over 15 different brands – the most prominent being 7-eleven, Peloton and TheRealest.com.
- NIL Valuation: $885,000
- Social Media Following: 217,000
1. J.J McCarthy – Quarterback
Five of the NIL top 10 valuations are quarterbacks, which is reflective of the QB-centric view of football at this moment in time, particularly in the NFL.
J.J McCarthy is fifth-favorite for the Heisman award according to US sportsbooks, and is one of college football’s finest signal callers; it should come as no surprise to see him rank at the top of Michigan players with the highest NIL valuation.
Likely to be a first round NFL Draft pick in 2024 should he declare, the flat-out athlete has has a startling breakout year, and has the third highest QB rating along with 22 touchdowns this year.
JJ MCCARTHY IS A BEAST pic.twitter.com/OQ5T5Updo3
— Unnecessary Roughness (@UnnecRoughness) January 1, 2024
As momentum gathers pace around his future and the national championship game, so too has his popularity, with eyes firmly fixed on the battle between him and Washington’s Michael Penix Jr.
McCarthy ranks 14th overall on the NIL 100 and 11th for college football alone. His biggest NIL deals to date include partnerships with headphone giants Bose, Topps trading cards and Essentia Water.
- NIL Valuation: $1.4 million
- Social Media Following: 360,000