NCAA ball finally rolling toward player profit, let's power rank 10 most expensive SEC autographs
Not yet. But it’s happening.
The NCAA unanimously voted on getting the process started to allow college athletes to make money off their name, image and likeness. There are still several steps in order for your favorite player to walk into the local sporting goods store and sign autographs for $5,000, but it’s a start.
Speaking of that, we decided to have a little fun. While this current group of 2019 SEC stars won’t be able to make money of their likeness, it’s interesting to think about which players would have the most expensive autographs.
This isn’t necessarily a “who’s having the best season” deal or a “who’s going to be the best pro” argument, but those things are factored into a player’s value.
Again, that’s what this whole deal is about. This is a popularity contest. Not everyone is going to want the autograph of that stud left tackle or that guy who plays for the smaller market team unless he’s gaining national popularity. They want the Heisman Trophy candidate.
Take that all into account as you debate these completely hypothetical power rankings of most-valued SEC autograph.
10. Marlon Davidson, Auburn
Auburn fans love this dude. That much we know. The guy is an absolute menace on the defensive line and because he’s a senior, he’s known by even the casual fan. Davidson went from being the dude who blocked kicks and showed flashes to being the guy who looks like a legitimate first-team All-SEC defensive lineman. I can picture Davidson signing autographs at a local mall and posing for a picture with a baby/small child in each of those massive arms of his.
9. Grant Delpit, LSU
The guy does everything. He covers, he makes tackles in the open field, he sacks quarterbacks. Who wouldn’t want to get an autograph from the prolific member of “DBU?”
(Heel, Florida fans. I’d say the same thing if I had C.J. Henderson on this list.)
Delpit is a national household name having come into the year with All-America love. It remains to be seen if he can stay healthy and productive enough to earn that kind of love at season’s end, but he’s still setting himself up to be a top 10 draft pick, which carries plenty of value in itself.
8. Lynn Bowden, Kentucky
I broke my rule here. I realize that Kentucky’s fan base isn’t the size of LSU, Georgia, Alabama or the majority of SEC schools. But hear me out. How much do Wildcat fans love this guy right now? I mean, all he did was switch from receiver to quarterback in the middle of his pre-draft season to make sure the Cats didn’t fade off into irrelevancy. The fact that he’s 2-1 as a starter with nearly 500 rushing yards certainly helps, too. Bowden has quickly become one of the program’s most popular players of the 21st century. Kentucky fans love their unconventional quarterbacks.
7. Derrick Brown, Auburn
Like Davidson, Brown would make himself a pretty penny on the autograph market. Besides the aforementioned experience factor, Brown is absolutely in the All-America/1st-round discussion. The only things only him back from being even higher on this list is that he’s a defensive lineman and Auburn suffered its 2nd loss. I’d love to see Brown and Davidson at the same, oversized table signing autographs with their tree-trunks for arms.
6. D’Andre Swift, Georgia
Skill players get the money. We all know they love their running backs in Athens. They certainly love Swift, who has been electric since arriving at Georgia in the start of its rise under Kirby Smart. The fact that he’s a 1st-round prospect helps, as does how his runs seem to have a knack for going viral. If Swift were to make some cash signing autographs for the Georgia masses, it’s safe to say his dad would make the perfect bodyguard.
D’Andre Swift’s dad will play The Hulk in the next Avengers movie 💪💪 pic.twitter.com/fZw8UWt95Q
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) October 6, 2019
I know what you’re thinking, Georgia fans. Can the NCAA retroactively un-suspend Todd Gurley?
5. Jake Fromm, Georgia
Fromm hasn’t had the year many thought he’d have, but he is still a 3rd-year starting quarterback at Georgia who has massive popularity. If Fromm wasn’t the subject of some of this offensive regression conversation that’s been all the rage in Athens, I’d probably have him in the top 3. But as it stands, the guy who loves fishing and beating out 5-star quarterbacks would stand to make a nice chunk of change. I at least know Fromm would make more than he did as an NCAA fisherman.
4. Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
Jeudy is going to make some serious coin in the NFL, but given his video game moves and national name recognizability already, the Alabama receiver would command a high price among the Crimson Tide fan base. He’s in position to finish all over the Alabama record books and he’s going to be an easy guy for fans to root for in the NFL, much like Julio Jones and Amari Cooper. Jeudy might be better than both. Given where he is in his career and what we think is ahead for him — first receiver taken in the 2020 NFL Draft — it makes sense that an electric skill player like Jeudy would have major value.
3. Derek Stingley, LSU
A bit of a wild card here because Stingley isn’t an offensive skill player, and he’s only a freshman. But that’s about the only actual knock on his value, which is sky high in Baton Rouge. He’s a local kid, which helps, and he’s in the first year of what looks like an All-America career (he could even get there as a true freshman). All he does is make plays. And when he does make mistakes like the fumbled punt return against Auburn or the coverage breakdowns against Florida, he makes up for it with an interception. Few people will be more popular than Stingley in college football the next couple of years.
2. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
If you had asked me this question at this time last year, Tagovailoa is a no-brainer No. 1. He still might be. I just happen to think there’s one player who has incredible popularity unlike anyone in the sport right now. Tagovailoa set the bar insanely high for himself with the 2017 national championship comeback. It’s not that I believe Alabama fans are bored with him by any stretch (putting the injury stuff aside). But his popularity has sort of remained at the same, extremely high level for the past 2 years. If he beats LSU fresh off his tight rope surgery and leads Alabama to another national championship, that would obviously change things.
1. Joe Burrow, LSU
So this past weekend, I was in Baton Rouge for Auburn-LSU. If I had a nickel for every time I saw an LSU jersey that either had “No. 9” or a No. 9 with some variation of Burrow’s name (“Ohio Jeaux” was my personal favorite), I would have had myself a Louisiana Saturday night to remember.
Lots of No. 9 jerseys being sold. #LSU quarterback Joe Burrow answers a series of questions on a very hot topic in college football – players profiting from name, image or likeness. pic.twitter.com/HhXUJ4qa3H
— Jacques Doucet (@JacquesDoucet) October 1, 2019
Burrow is a king in Baton Rouge. Plain and simple. It’s more than the fact that the guy put up gaudy numbers all year. It’s that he doesn’t slide when he scrambles. It’s that he plays with a chip on his shoulder and talks trash. It’s that he’s everything LSU fans could have ever wanted in a quarterback. He has to be as easy of a person to root for a home fan base as any this decade.
Burrow walks into any Baton Rouge mall/car dealership/bar mitzvah/Bingo night and I’m convinced people would camp out to get a signature and a picture with him.