Last December, shortly after announcing the creation of their “Next In Line” program, WWE introduced the first 15 college athletes they’d signed to Name, Image & Likeness contracts (NIL... get it?!?!).
Signees do some promotional work for WWE, and get access to all manner of sports & entertainment training at the company’s Orlando Performance Center, while continuing on with their academic & athletic careers. Everyone involved can see if they want to continue the relationship at relatively low risk to WWE.
Today (June 13), they’ve announced a second group. This cohort of 15 boasts representatives from 14 different universities (including the first from a historically Black institution), seven NCAA conferences, and seven sports.
• Ali Mattox of Ole Miss, a 5-foot-7 cheer & dance athlete from Little Rock, Ark.
• Case Hatch os Arizona State, a 6-foot-1, 230-pound football player from Gilbert, Ariz.
• Chandler Hayden of Tennessee, a 5-foot-11 track & field athlete from Pittsfield, Ill.
• Cohlton Schultz of Arizona State, a 6-foot-2, 285-pound wrestler from Parker, Colo.
• Derrian Gobourne of Auburn, a 5-foot-4 gymnast from Sarasota, Fla.
• Ericka Link of Elon, a 5-foot-6 volleyball player from Hedgesville, W.Va.
• Keshaun Moore of Hampton, a 6-foot-3, 270-pound football player from Suffolk, Va.
• Luke Ford of Illinois, a 6-foot-6, 260-pound football player from Carterville, Ill.
• Maliq Carr of Michigan State, a 6-foot-5, 245-pound football and basketball player from Inkster, Mich.
• Mikala Hall of Central Michigan, a 5-foot-5 basketball player from Danville, Ill.
• Rachel Glenn of South Carolina, a 6-foot track & field athlete from Long Beach, Calif.
• Ruben Banks of Arkansas, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound track & field athlete from Binfield, England
• Thunder Keck of Stanford, a 6-foot-3, 245-pound football player from Northfield, N.H.
• Tyanna Omazic of Miami, a 6-foot-2 volleyball player from Kansas City, Mo.
• Zachary Knighton-Ward of Hofstra, a 6-foot-2, 285-pound wrestler from Rosedale, N.Y.
The group will formally be introduced tonight at the inaugural NIL Summit at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta
WWE’s first and most prominent NIL signee is University of Minnesota National champion and Olympic Gold Medal-winning wrestler Gable Steveson. He seemed to be on a fast-track to Raw after WrestleMania 38, but now may be headed back to school for another year.
Thoughts? I really only have one. Please let this kid keep his name...