Last July, the NCAA adopted new name, image, and likeness (NIL) laws, for the first time allowing student athletes to legally profit off their popularity as sports figures. The NCAA has long made dubious claims of amateurism as the reason for not paying college athletes, all the while profiting nearly $19 billion each year for athletic departments and making collegiate coaches the highest paid public employees in almost every state in the country. And while neither the NCAA nor colleges have been made to pay athletes for their *very profitable* labor (and no, a scholarship that not every athlete receives is in no way commensurate with the revenue they generate), with the NIL, at least some collegians are able to earn an income.

And now, the top college football prospect has penned a deal with a Mississippi coffee company.

As reported by Yahoo!, Travis Hunter, a five-star recruit at cornerback and the number one overall prospect in the class of 2022, has signed on to endorse J5 Caffe, a Black-owned coffee roaster based in Columbus, MS. Originally committed to a more traditional football powerhouse Florida State, Hunter de-committed before opting to attend Jackson State, an HBCU in Jackson, MS coached by Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders. Hunter is the highest-rated recruit to sign with an HBCU.

advert but first coffee cookbook now available


The endorsement deal makes sense for both parties. Per Yahoo!, in his commitment letter, Hunter states that he “wanted to blaze a new trail for top athletes to consider attending HBCUs.” Likewise, J5 Caffe and owner Jabari O. Edwards, Sr. donate a percentage of their sales to “help minority businesses and creates scholarships for students from low socioeconomic communities who desire to attend a Historically Black College and University in Mississippi.”

“Hunter set the sports world ablaze when he chose to play for (Deion Sanders) and JSU,” the Columbus, Mississippi-based company said in a news release. “He possesses unique skills and a mindset that will allow him to be a phenomenal two-way threat for JSU. His uniqueness complements the uniqueness of J5 Caffe and they will both change the game.”

The financial details of the deal are not yet known, but one valuation has Hunter’s NIL earning potential nearing $900,000, including some rather staggering social media rates of $1,100 for a TikTok mention and $5,700 for an Instagram post.

AS best we can tell, Hunter’s endorsement of J5 Caffe marks the first NIL deal struck between a college athlete and a coffee company. It is without question the most high profile. Hunter hasn’t been part of any advertisements for the brand yet, but one cannot help but hope to see the young star cradling a big giant coffee bean like a football before spiking it into a grinder to be used in a shot of espresso. J5, if you need more obviously perfect commercial ideas, call me!

Zac Cadwaladerย is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas.ย Read more Zac Cadwaladerย on Sprudge.

New Rules of Coffee banner advertising an illustrated guide to the essential rules for enjoying coffee