It is no secret that NIL has greatly changed the college recruiting game. Gone are the fabled ‘bag men’ that paid recruits behind closed doors, and instead replace them with top prospects earning paychecks in broad daylight to attend the school of a booster’s choice.
Since the legalization of NIL, we have seen this happen at big programs across the country, but perhaps no more so than places like Miami, Texas A&M, and most recently Florida State with the commitment of five-star safety K.J. Bolden for a reportedly large NIL deal. However, while these big boosters can giveth, they can also taketh away when that money well dries up.
Such is the story for the Hurricanes, as John Ruiz, dubbed Miami’s ‘NIL King,’ is currently under federal investigation for his company LifeWallet. Ruiz has provided an large influx of money to Miami’s athletic programs, and he and his money have played a pivotal role in attracting recruits to the school — most notably Nigel Pack’s $800K deal. With LifeWallet now the target of “federal civil and criminal investigations,” the company once valued at $32B has seen its stock prices drop under 25 cents per share.
All this to say: that Ruiz money may not be flowing to Miami for much longer. The Athletic has reported that the Canes don’t expect much of an impact on NIL without Ruiz, as LifeWallet allegedly is only responsible for around 15-20 percent of the school’s current deals, I find that hard to believe. Even if it is actually only that size slice of the pie, that could still have a significant impact on a handful of players that are weighing a quick paycheck versus the chance to play at a school that will actually win football games and develop them for the next level.
Regardless, Ohio State may have an opportunity to potentially sway some targets away from Miami in the 2024 class amid this news, and have continued to recruit players such as Marquise Lightfoot and recently Chance Robinson to Columbus even despite their commitment to the Canes.
Lightfoot, the No. 5 EDGE and No. 62 overall player in the 2024 class per the 247Sports Composite, was once considered an Ohio State lean. However, Miami swooped in late with what was likely a large enough NIL offer to sway the Illinois native. Even after his commitment elsewhere, Larry Johnson and the Buckeyes never stopped recruiting the 6-foot-5, 220-pound defensive lineman, and with this news coming out of Miami, their chances may have only increased to flip Lightfoot before he signs on the dotted line.
Robinson is a bit of a different story, as Brian Hartline only extended an offer to the wide receiver on July 30. Coming in this late in the game to a player who already held over 30 offers is usually a massively uphill battle, but between the Miami NIL issues and Hartline’s reputation as both a recruiter and a developer, this is another player Ohio State seems to have a legitimate chance of flipping.
Robinson currently ranks as the No. 23 WR and the No. 151 overall player in the 2024 class per the 247Sports Composite. The Buckeyes would love to finish out a stacked receiver class with both Robinson and Jeremiah McClellan.
This is all mostly speculation, but with the recent offer to Robinson and the continued pursuit of Lightfoot, the Ohio State coaching staff must feel like they have at least non-zero chances here or they would not continue to waste resources on players already committed elsewhere. Either way, it is a situation worth monitoring as we get deep into the summer months and inch closer and closer to signing day.
- After whiffing on Dylan Stewart last week, Ohio State is in need of a big win along the defensive line in 2024. They got one step closer to that on Friday afternoon, as four-star EDGE Booker Pickett included the Buckeyes among his top schools. The No. 13 EDGE and No. 190 player overall, Pickett cut down his list of nearly 40 offers to just five, with Ohio State making the cut alongside Florida State, Georgia, Miami and South Carolina.
- Ohio State extended an offer on Sunday to 2025 offensive tackle Peter Langi. A California native, Langi is currently a three-star prospect per 247Sports’ own ranking, coming in as the No. 22 IOL in the class. At 6-foot-5, 330 pounds, there is plenty of time for the Archbishop Riordan product to rise up the ranks as we get closer to the 2025 cycle coming into the spotlight.