STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA) -- Over the weekend, a bunch of NFL players came to Starkville to participate in the Jeffery Simmons football camp. Simmons played his high school football at Noxubee County, college at Mississippi State and he currently plays for the Tennessee Titans. I asked him about what advice he would give to players that are starting to exploring name, image, and likeness opportunities.
"I hope it's good for the college athlete," Simmons said.
Simmons is in the middle of his rookie contract where he's earning over 12 million dollars over four years. While college athletes won't be making that much, when it comes to any endorsements, Simmons implored athletes to not go it alone.
"Make sure you have a good team around you to know the ins and outs of whatever endorsements," Simmons said. "If it's an agent or whatever it may be, make sure you have the right circle around you."
Another former local star at the Simmons camp was Starkville native Willie Gay. After playing for State, Gay was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs. Like Simmons, Gay is familiar with the grind of a college athlete, but in addition to echoing Simmons, he added:
"Don't make it your main priority, your main focus, worry about football, school then football, and your life," Gay said. "Because if you just get the money and block out everything else you're not achieving nothing."
Simmons and Gay are professional athletes, which means they have professional resources like agents and money managers, and other services provided by their NFL teams. Even Division-I schools like Ole Miss have entire departments dedicated to the NIL legislation and issues which may arise. What about kids at the high school level? The NIL adds a wrinkle to an already tough decision when it comes to top recruits like Itawamba's Isaac Smith.
"I gotta start looking more into it as I prepare for college," Smith said.
Smith is a junior and a four-star recruit. He's already got offers from D-1 schools like Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Notre Dame and Georgia. When it comes to potential endorsements, he's choosing to focus on other things.
"I want to go on like the academic way to school," Smith said. "I like a lot of like good fans and I like meeting people, so the money won't play a big part in where I go."
The new rules also affect the coaches of top recruits, like Smith's coach Clint Hoots, who was a college athlete himself. High school coaches do take on responsibility for their athlete's recruiting and in the early stages, he said that this is information he still has to learn more about.
"You no longer look at like ok I can go play for this program because its prestige or I can get an education from this college because of its prestige," Hoots said. "Now this adds a third element to it like what are they allowing."
What are they allowing is a good question. As of now, different states have different rules, so when it comes to recruiting, there are already advantages and disadvantages forming depending on which state a particular college resides.
Coach Hoots said that high school coaches in Mississippi are having a meeting in Jackson this week to discuss the issue further.