The introduction of NIL (Name, Image and Likeness) compensation in July 2021 created a seismic shift in college sports, and in particular, college football. For one Boston College wide receiver, there’s a lot more to life than just money, though.
Zay Flowers will enter the 2022 college football season as one of the nation’s top wide-receiver prospects. Flowers received a football scholarship to Boston College in 2019 and earned All-ACC honors as a wide receiver with a breakout 2020 season.
Flowers told ESPN’s Pete Thamel he received numerous offers from NIL companies to transfer to certain schools just days before the May 1 deadline to enter the transfer portal without a waiver.
“He said he was told NIL companies would give him $600,000 to transfer to one school, and there was another deal that would give him $300,000 to go to a different school,” Thamel wrote. “Flowers had not entered the NCAA transfer portal, nor given any public indication he intended to.”
Many top players across different sports have experienced the benefits of NIL, including Texas running back Bijan Robinson, who signed an NIL deal with a local Lamborghini dealership.
Flowers grew up in Fort Lauderdale, FL, as the 11th of 14 children. His mother died in 2005. His father, Willie, drives a truck for a medical device company to provide for the family. A six-figure offer was enticing for Flowers, but he decided to turn it down.
“For a kid like me from a household of 14 with one parent, that’s life-changing money,” Flowers said to ESPN. “I talked to Coach (Jeff) Hafley, and we went through what was going on. I talked to my dad. My dad would love me to stay at BC, and I wanted to stay at BC. It was a decision I had to make, and the decision I made was to come back to school.”
The tactic for a school representative to offer NIL deals for a player to transfer to another school is technically not allowed in the NCAA NIL rules, but it is difficult to enforce. Flowers told ESPN no coaches reached out to him directly before the May 1 deadline, but he did receive texts and social media messages from players from interested teams.
“It felt like I was back being recruited,” Flowers said. “They put a lot of pressure on you, too. But there’s no money on the line during the time when you are recruited (in high school). Now there’s money on the line. That makes it harder.”
Flowers was forced to make a quick decision. Either help his family that includes over 20 nieces and nephews in the short term or stay at BC, where he has several NIL deals, including one that provides him a BMW.
“Originally, the first one I had with him, I could tell he got excited” Willie Flowers said to ESPN, via phone. “It is a lot of money. He got kind of excited. Once he calmed down, I really talked to him. He knew where he wanted to be at. I told him, like Bill Parcells said, ‘Don’t chase the cheese, it’s rat poison.’ “
Ultimately, football was the deciding factor. Zay Flowers wanted to stay with his friends and teammates and finish his degree at Boston College.
“That just shows I believe in loyalty and shows my father is thinking ahead for my future,” Flowers said. “He’s got my best intentions in mind. He really loves me and wants the best for me. The BC degree is a lot more valuable than the degree from a lot of the schools reaching out. I can make more than $600,000 with my degree and the alumni network down the road.”
Flowers hopes to impress in 2022 as Boston College will look to improve on their 6-6 record from 2021.