Billy Napier Sidesteps Jaden Rashada Questions Without Fear Of NCAA

Billy Napier Sidesteps Jaden Rashada Questions Without Fear Of NCAA

Ultimately, the signing of Jaden Rashada will be a historic moment in college football. The five-star quarterback prospect made it official Wednesday with Arizona State after a wild six months, and Florida head coach Billy Napier holds no grudges over his former commitment.

No bad blood between Billy Napier and Jaden Rashada. Publicly, at least.
(Photo by Chris Leduc/Icon Sportswire, Carly Mackler/Getty Images)

Rashada, a native of California, committed to Miami in July. His decision was reportedly accompanied by a lucrative NIL deal in the region of $9 million, but “left millions on the table”.

In the end, however, Rashada got that money back. Temporarily, at least.

Rashada signed off from Miami on November 10, 2022, and signed with Florida during the early signing period. The turnaround came with a $4 million “pay raise” and a new NIL deal with the Gator Collective worth $13 million.

Until it doesn’t. The money fell.

As a result, just weeks before National Signing Day, Rashada requested to be released from his National Letter of Intent with Florida. The Gator then granted his request.

With a $13 million NIL contract in his rearview mirror, Rashada needed to find a new home, and fast. He got closer to home and ended up at Arizona State, which brings up a question of money in Tempe.

Meanwhile, in Gainesville, there are questions about the fallout. The NCAA is trying to start cracking down on NIL’s role in recruiting and the chaos surrounding the current landscape.

Could Florida be in trouble over Jaden Rashada’s situation?

Should the NCAA decide to look into recruiting Rashada — from Miami to Florida to ASU — it could turn over some rocks that neither the Hurricanes nor the Gators want turned over. There is also a chance that the Rashada party will become contentious.

It would be even worse for Florida and/or the Gator Collective, which already has a metaphorical egg on its face.

Head coach Billy Napier made it clear Wednesday that he doesn’t anticipate the NCAA getting involved, which may turn out to be very wrong. In the meantime, he focuses on what he can control.

His program signed a top 15 program of the recent cycle. That doesn’t mean Napier isn’t frustrated.

I think any college football coach would tell you they’re frustrated. We live in a fluid dynamic. There are a lot of good things about NIL, but I think the combination of NIL and the portal creates momentum.

We are all aware of the issues and the parameters in which we are currently struggling. I think over time the market will calm down.

— Billy Napier on National Signing Day Billy Napier stood alongside Florida’s NIL structure.

Despite the success of this year’s class, a cloud continues to hang over Gainesville after the Rashada fallout. Napier couldn’t go into detail at Wednesday’s press conference, but said Florida’s positioning in the NIL space is one he sees as a strength.

I wish we could go into detail, but we’re not allowed to. The reality is the current structure of NIL with involved third parties, involved agents, marketing reps, attorneys, collectives, very fluid and I think a very unique dynamic.

We live in an era of college athletics that we will remember. I think ultimately NIL is a strength for the Gators. We are very happy with where we are in relation to our current players, all the athletes and what we have been able to accomplish in a short time.

— Billy Napier on National Signing Day

Later it doubled.

I can only speak about our current team, the current athletes that we have – not just in football, but many sports have benefited from it. We have a ton of strengths in this area. We live in a state of 21 million people; we have half a million living alumni; we are surrounded by huge markets. I think our players took advantage of that.

— Billy Napier on National Signing Day

Napier also made it clear that he has nothing but respect for Rashada and his family.

The Gators could have a rude awakening.

Overall, the 43-year-old sophomore head coach is comfortable with how he and his program approach the whole process.

I think you spend your whole life, your whole career trying to establish who you are and how you function. I think ultimately I can lay my head at night on this base. … At the end of the day, the good thing here is that I have a lot of confidence in our leadership, the strategy that we deploy, how it benefits our team – the group of players that we have in our team. I think we are going in the right direction.

— Billy Napier on National Signing Day

Although Napier says he can sleep at night and doesn’t expect NCAA involvement, Rashada’s recruiting is unprecedented and exciting. If the family or the NCAA look to Florida, that unique circumstance that led the five-star to Arizona State could be what changes the way NIL looks at recruiting. This could be an opportunity to lead by example.

Stay tuned, this saga has not come to an end!

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