How Jaden Rashad’s $13 Million Recruitment to Florida Collapsed

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article reported that Edward Rojas and Gene Grosso of Gator Group signed Jaden Rashad to a contract on November 10. Grosso, who was involved in coordinating the players’ post-agreement activities, did not sign the contract.

GAINESVILLE, FL — Quarterback Jaden Rashada is stuck in play-by-play purgatory as Florida works to mend its mindless name, image, and example.

Whether you’ve followed this recruitment saga casually or with intense focus, this explainer provides a comprehensive breakdown intended to illuminate, educate, and presume the following:

Who are the people involved?

Along with Gators head coach Billy Napier and athletic director Scott Stricklin, here are the central characters:

Jaden Rashad, a four-star quarterback from Pittsburgh, California, and the No. 56 prospect in the recruiting class of 2023, according to 247Sports Composite. Among the best quarterbacks the Gators have landed in the past decade, he signed his National Letter of Intent on Dec. 21, and after appearing at the Under-Armor All-American event in Orlando on Jan. 3, he repeated. the athlete He plans to register in Florida two days later.

Harleen RashadJaden’s father and former defensive back at Arizona State.

Eddie RojasCEO of the Gator Collective, which he launched in August 2021. A former Florida baseball player who entered the NIL space through a crowdsourcing platform, Rojas hoped to have his school known as “NIL U.”

He said of his group in April: “I would venture to say that the Gator collective pays more guaranteed money than any group in the country. When I write a contract, I want to make sure we actually have the money in our account.”


Billy Napier’s Florida team went 6-7 in his first season in 2022 (Kim Klement/USA Today)

Gene Grosso, NIL coordinator for the Crocodile Caucus. Known as “Gator Jen” to the fanbase — which is also her Twitter account — Grosso holds finance and law degrees from the University of Florida.

Hugh Hathcock, the mega-donor who pledged $12.6 million to Florida’s athletic department in 2022. In April, he launched the Gator Guard — a group of wealthy donors able to write larger checks than a group of cheerleaders could raise in years. Hathcock said, “Players need to know whether or not they come to the University of Florida they’re going to get the best opportunities like any school in America.”

Marcus Castro Walkerdirector of player engagement for the Gators and the NIL, is among the first recruits Napier has hired when he becomes Florida’s head coach in December 2021.

Follow the guidance schedule

June 7: Jaden Rashad is on an official visit to Florida. Al-Rashadan assures the staff that NIL is not a factor in Jaden’s employment, claiming that “there is a misconception about us out there”. Florida ends up looking like Rashad’s front runner.

June 9-12: Rashada joins his 7v7 Miami Immortals—a travel team funded by University of Miami billionaire John Ruiz—for the OT7 National Championships in Las Vegas.

June 20: Initially scheduled to reveal his commitment on June 18, Rashad postponed the announcement and scheduled an official visit to Miami.

June 26: Rashad is committed to Miami via Florida, LSU, Texas A&M, and Ole Miss. The Gators’ staff had withdrawn the scholarship offer days earlier.

November 10: Rashad and Gator Collective agree terms for a deal worth more than $13 million. Such a huge pledge is believed to greatly exceed the Gator Collective’s level of fundraising, so the deal assumes help from Hathcock or other Gator Guard donors. After signing the contract, Rashad squirms from Miami and flips to Florida.

November 12: Rashada attends his first game at The Swamp, where Florida clobbers are outscoring South Carolina 38-6 in front of a packed crowd. “Everything about this seemed like the right decision for Jaden,” Harlin says.

December 7: Rojas is sending a termination letter on a $13 million contract, according to a program source close to the situation. There are conflicting accounts of why the deal collapsed and who pledged to pay what. Multiple conversations ensued between the donors and members of the athletic department, including Castro, Walker, and Stricklin. Some within the administration are only now beginning to accelerate what was promised — a program intended to keep these third-party dealings at arm’s length. However, those conversations ultimately focus on finding contingencies to keep the top of the line in the fold.

December 21: After a 67-minute delay, Napier’s late afternoon press conference on National Signing Day finally got underway. Rashada’s name, which was initially missing from the list of signatories, was added at the last minute. “I just think there’s a high level of trust on both ends,” Napier says of recruiting an Elite 11 quarterback. “I’m really excited about what he’ll bring to our team. … Can’t compliment Jaden enough on who he is as a person, as a leader, and his personality.” Jaden He’s a guy who came here and fell in love with the University of Florida and really connected with a lot of people here. He was honest.”

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December 29: Rashad arrives in Orlando to start practicing for the Under-Armor All-American Game. He praises his fellow Florida signers and says he’s eager to start working out with the receivers at the indoor facility. Rashada describes Napier as a coach who “loves to connect with people” and adds, “Who wouldn’t want to play for a good guy?”

December 30: In an interview just days before Rashad’s scheduled taping, Harlin calls Napier “the boss of the guys” and says Jaden is “as happy as I’ve ever seen him.” Harlen offers quite a few thoughts on NIL: “It’s new to the college scene. It really affects the recruiting and the game — but I think there are a lot more positives than negatives. This process wasn’t great, and it wasn’t perfect, but you’re just trying to make the right decision with your kid.” “.

January 3: Moments after the Under-Armor match at Camping World Stadium, Rashada poses for photos with other players in Florida. He compliments Napier’s insult, saying, “I’m concerned with the Florida system” and that he’s got a head start on studying the formations. Then he waves to his family in the stands. The two plan to drive from Orlando to Gainesville for commuting on January 5.

January 10: Sixteen report to be the first enrollees, but Rashada is not among them, which casts doubt on his future. There remains the possibility that he will eventually catch up with Florida, though Rashada is back on the West Coast.

January 11: A source on the program familiar with the tangle says Rashada will not be enrolling in Florida. “There’s a lot of panic. It’s like stepping on an ant heap.” There is also the possibility of litigation, depending on whether or not the November contract is binding. The groups, according to another program source familiar with the situation, are offering a lesser bribe deal — still above seven figures — to stay in Florida, with the caveat that it absolves everyone of all previous allegations.

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Refuting an On3 report claiming that Rashada requested release from his Florida NLOI, Harlin says his son has not filed for release. Additionally, he told 247Sports that the family is “working through a few things at the moment with Florida and hopes it gets sorted out soon.” While saying his son expects early enrollment at Gainesville, Harlen admits the situation gets murkier if there’s no resolution by Jan. 13, the spring semester’s late enrolment deadline.

January 13: While this is the deadline for students to start the spring semester, let’s not pretend the admissions office won’t grant an exception for a few days to the elite 11 quarterback. Florida and register or speed start contacting other FBS schools. Of course, there’s a chance that you’ll sacrifice spring and Florida recording in late May, which could send message boards avalanche over this extended drama.

Has this become a loss for Florida?

Wisconsin transfer Graham Mertz arrives with two years of eligibility, and Jack Miller returns from an unpleasant start in the Las Vegas Bowl. This is hardly a sparkling duo. These two are more of a diverse group, and are two older running backs who are able to guide the Gators through rebuilding.

Rashad brought real juice. Sure, he needed to carry some weight as part of his new direction, but he’s an excellent high school quarterback—the kind top contenders sign each year, and the kind absent from Florida’s previous two classes. These QBs stack up year after year, and teams have a group that is familiar with their system and deep enough to absorb a meltdown. You go through a recruiting slump, and teams are perpetually choosing which guys to reprogram through the gate.

Even if the relationship somehow proves salvageable and Rashadh joins Gainesville, will it only portend dysfunction in the future? After getting over a breakup last summer, can the program and camp guide mend another crack? In a position that requires intangible leadership and deep trust with coaches, it’s hard to understand a quarterback struggling with the chaotic start to his college career.

Their recent backstage interaction — from the signing-day stop in December to this week’s taping drama — has created bruising feelings in the slightest of bitter animosity. There is a comparison with Major League Baseball arbitration, where a player touts his value even as his team argues to diminish it. Of course, these sessions usually involve grown men, tough due to previous professional contract negotiations. Rashada is 19 years old, with mere weeks left to graduate high school, though college football recruiting is shaped by various levels of NIL courts, she has undeniably risen into the professional realm.

NIL-era SEC recruiting is saltier than ever: First, Nick Saban says Texas A&M “bought every player” in its top-ranked class, and now the Gators are saddled with the damning perception that they’ve fallen behind on what they promised. Classified site.

It’s a dilemma. Not from the perspective of state law or NCAA guidelines, neither of which are enforced, but a dilemma that affects the optics. Is this a one-time misstep, or did the Gators completely miss their first swing in the NIL? Why haven’t we heard of other Alabama, Georgia, or other SEC schools experiencing such public embarrassments?

When Napier took the Florida job, he praised the alignment from the president to AD for the head coach. Now Ben Sassi replaces Kent Fox as boss, and Al Rashadah’s predicament screams that the alignment is loose.

Indeed it is time to reorganize.

(Photo: Chris Leduc/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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