Is Texas A&M Football Really Leading in the NIL Space?
It was an extremely popular talking point a couple of years ago to say that Texas A&M football was outspending everyone else on the NIL front. This was mostly due to the fact that the Aggies brought in that legendary 2022 recruiting class.
Since that point—and even at that point—there has been no shortage of evidence that the Aggies were not, in fact, using NIL funds as an inducement to players for the 2022 class. Both Walter Nolen, now at Ole Miss, and Shemar Stewart said on their signing days that if it were about money, they wouldn't be playing for Texas A&M football.
Let me be clear one more time on something I have consistently said: I am not saying that the Aggies didn't have NIL deals for their players. What I am saying is that the Aggies were not offering such outsized deals compared to other schools that it is the differentiating factor in those recruitments, or any recruitment since then.
You can't say the same for every school, however.
Let me be clear on one other front, here: in the world of college football in which we currently reside, this is not a good thing. Would the Aggies be able to build a better football team if they followed some of the leading transfer portal programs in tampering and offering large NIL sums? Without a doubt!
Because of the rules that have been set up, too, you can't necessarily blame guys for testing "free agency" in order to drive up their price. If the aforementioned Nolen, for example, figured he could get a larger amount from the Aggies if he entered the portal and fielded offers, and just take one of those offers if they refuse to budge, then that's strictly business. You would hope that the value of the teammates he currently has and the familiar surrounds would play in your favor, and whatever NIL structure the Aggies have could settle things in initial "negotiations" before his name goes in the portal in earnest, but sometimes things don't fall like that.
What I'm saying is there is no reliable indication that Texas A&M football is a top-three program in NIL spending, whether in high school recruiting or in the transfer portal. The recent push for Texas Aggies United seems to be doing well, though. If you listen to Billy Liucci, the Aggies have lagged behind a bit, but are starting to come on stronger. Other in-state programs have been trying to take advantage of this from the jump.
Recruiting is not all about NIL, in the end. I think there are certain programs that have a dogged determination to throw as much money as possible at high-upside prospects at high-value positions. But I don't think, for example, that Georgia and Alabama are the top two NIL programs. I would think they're up there—top 10, maybe. But they win recruiting battles due to the staff they have and the track record they've shown on the field.
Texas A&M football has built a great staff. They are building a competitive, if not yet top-of-the-line, NIL structure. Hopefully, the track record on the field will soon see a massive upturn as well.