GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida quarterback recruit Jaden Rashada requested a release from his national letter of intent Tuesday night after a $13 million name, image and likeness deal fell through, a person familiar with the situation said.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither side has publicly acknowledged the pending split.
Rashada’s future had been in doubt since he failed to enroll at Florida last week, sending signals that something was amiss. He flipped his commitment from Miami to Florida in mid-November and formally signed with the Gators on Dec. 21.
But his arrival in Gainesville was contingent on a four-year, $13 million NIL deal he signed with the Gator Collective, according to the person. The Gator Collective is an independent fundraising arm that disburses money to student-athletes in all sports. The financial backing fell through, however — the Gator Collective terminated the binding agreement — and left Florida coach Billy Napier to scramble to try to get Rashada to campus.
It was a messy situation to say the least, one that could have long-term ramifications for Napier and the Gators. Rashada’s representatives still could file a lawsuit against the Gator Collective and maybe the athletic department.
Rashada, a California high school star, returned home to the San Francisco suburb of Pittsburg instead of enrolling. The 6-foot-4, 185-pounder completed 60.1% of his passes last season for 5,275 yards, 59 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. A five-star prospect by 247Sports and ranked No. 2 at his position by ESPN, Rashada picked Miami over Florida in June. He changed his mind amid the Hurricanes’ disappointing season.
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The Gators badly needed help at the all-important QB position. They lost Anthony Richardson to the NFL draft and dismissed backup Jalen Kitna following his arrest on child pornography charges. They also had Emory Jones and Carlos Del Rio-Wilson transfer last spring.
Florida has since signed Wisconsin transfer Graham Mertz to compete for the starting job alongside Jack Miller. The Gators are currently trying to land former LSU quarterback Walker Howard.