USC QB Recruit Malachi Nelson’s NIL Dilemma | He Wants All The Money, Glory Of A Heisman Winner, But Doesn’t Want To Get Booed If He Fails

Imagee Credit: Twitter @BenjaminRivals

USC QB recruit Malachi Nelson wants to ensure he never looks bad in the world of name, image, and likeness deals (NIL) and game-day pressures.

The No. 2-ranked class of 2023 recruit had some words of wisdom that other young NIL deal recipients can glean from to ensure a positive outcome. Bottom line: don’t look dumb when obligations for your deal conflict with public perception after a game-day loss.

“Last year, there were some college guys that had a bad game, and then they had to wake up the next morning and post this endorsement deal,” Nelson said to On3. “It doesn’t look very good. So my team has put me in a position to avoid that happening.”

Nelson knows that in the social media world, no one wants to hear a promo from a guy who just took a loss, and he has hedged his bets to keep his cool factor intact.

The 6-foot-3 QB was highly sought after by various top-tier colleges as early as eighth grade. In fact, his very first scholarship offer came from Auburn in middle school. Nelson plays at Los Alamitos High School in California and has signed with Levels Sports Group to handle his NIL deals.

In June, Michael Vick joined the athletic management firm as its head of athletic development. Nelson now has the expertise of a former No. 1 draft pick as he navigates the NIL world before entering college.

“The people and the relationship is something that I love,” Nelson said to ESPN. “All those guys over there, the things they do … It’s something that I wanted to be a part of, and it’s where I’m going to be spending my time over the next couple years. To be part of that is big.”

Nelson is off to a great start scoring his first NIL deal in the cool lane frequented by celebrities like the Kardashians with The h.wood Group, a global hospitality firm with over 30 hotspot eateries and clubs worldwide.

“It’s cool to be a part of it and be at the front of everything that’s happening, especially in the high school space,” Nelson continued. “It’s good to get to this point where people are getting rewarded for what they do. It’s amazing to be at the front of it.”

However, Maachi and his father, Eric Nelson, have their eyes on the only prize that matters athletically to them: getting into the NFL. Although the NIL space has made the young QB buck a summer job because he’s now “comfortable,” he understands that brand alignment comes second to professional football positioning.

“This is all fun and it’s good to be comfortable now,” Malachi Nelson said. “At the end of the day, we’re chasing the NFL and that second contract when you really get paid. All of this is lining up to get to that point.”

Aside from upgrading his car from a 1999 Ford Escape nicknamed The Dragon, a vehicle with a penchant for breakdowns, Malachi upgraded to a 2022 Mercedes AMG GLE 53 Coupe. His father added that although they live on a single-family income, Malachi’s mother and father haven’t taken any money from their son, who is now financially “self-sufficient.”

As the NIL deal transforms young dreamers into breadmakers, Malachi’s journey teaches that the goal is to navigate while not adding the pressures of marketing at times adverse to his brand.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.