5 Highest-Paid College Athletes Living Large Early in Their Careers

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The college sports landscape changed in 2021 after the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) allowed college athletes to benefit from their Name, Image & Likeness. This was after the Supreme Court determined they were violating student antitrust laws, by limiting their compensation. These players are now earning big money through NIL deals as their social media valuation increases. 

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In no particular order, we look at the highest-paid college athletes. 

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Angel Reese

Spotcovery-5 Highest-Paid College Athletes Living Large Early in Their Careers
Angel Reese playing for LSU. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-SA-2.0

The Louisiana State University (LSU) player’s profile shot during the 2023 NCAA tournament, where her team beat the Iowa State University. Angel Reese was racially targeted after she did the ‘you can’t see me’ sign on Caitlin Clark’s face, after their victory. 

Reese continues to be the face of LSU’s women’s basketball team and has earned numerous awards this year. She’s made it into the All-American first team and has been working with big-name brands like Beats by Dre, Goldman Sachs and Amazon. On3 pegs her valuation at $1.8 million

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Bronny James

You will recognize him as the son of LeBron James. He might always walk in the shadows of his father but it’s fair to say that he’s carving out his one path. Bronny is among the highest-paid college athletes, with a nil valuation of around $7.2 million, per On3

This has earned him sponsorship deals with brands like: 

The basketballer has a combined social media following of over 13 million, and as the years go by, his valuation could increase.

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Caleb Williams

The highly-rated football quarterback has attracted numerous brands while playing college football at the University of Southern California. Williams won the 2022 Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Awards, achievements that put him high up on the team’s drafts list. 

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However, he’s not quick to jump on the draft, as he fears he might find himself picked by a smaller team that doesn’t have the resources to help him become the best player. That said, his valuation stands at $2.7 million, with much less social media following of over 350 thousand. 

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Shedeur Sanders

If you’re an ardent NFL fan, you’ll know the name Sanders. Just like his father Deoin Sanders, Shedeur is making waves in college football with his performance and is also attracting big sponsorship deals. 

He played for Jackson State University and then moved to the University of Colorado Boulder where he plays for the team, the Colorado Buffaloes

On3 reports that Shedeur’s valuation is $4.7 million. He works with brands such as Mercedes-Benz and Gatorade. Apart from having a big social media profile, being Deoin Sanders’ son helps his cause.

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Travis Hunter

The cornerback and wide receiver is one of the highest-paid college athletes, with a valuation of $2.4 million. He enjoys a social media following of over 2 million, which has earned him endorsement deals with brands such as Waterland Co. and a football equipment brand NXTRND. Hunter is tipped to be one of the most-wanted in the NFL draft in 2025.

These are some of the highest-paid college athletes today, benefiting from NCAA rule changes. They are playing college sports at the highest level and earn from their sweat, something that’s been hugely debated over the years. 

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