The Jackson State Tigers quarterback and son of Deion Sanders is the first college football player to sign an NIL deal with Gatorade.
Gatorade is making its first-ever NIL splash with an HBCU athlete in partnering with Jackson State quarterback Shedeur Sanders, the sports drink company the announced Thursday. As part of the multi-year agreement, Sanders will work with Gatorade to drive national exposure of historically Black college programs and their athletes.
“It’s an honor to join the Gatorade family and represent this historic moment for HBCU athletes,” Sanders said in a statement. “I can’t wait to work with Gatorade on and off the field to help create even more opportunities for HBCU students and athletes.”
Sanders is the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer and current Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders. The Tigers signal-caller is coming off a stellar season in which he led JSU to a SWAC conference championship while racking up several individual awards as well; he became the first HBCU athlete to win the Jerry Rice Award in addition to earning SWAC Freshman of the Year honors.
“As one of the country’s best freshmen college football players, Shedeur Sanders is another incredible addition to the Gatorade Family,” said Chauncey Hamlett, CMO/VP of PepsiCo Beverages North America, South Division in a statement. “In his first year at Jackson State University, he’s already demonstrated the excellence and tenacity Gatorade athletes are known for and we’re excited to partner with him and build upon our commitment of supporting HBCUs and their athletes.”
The move to sign Shedeur is part of Gatorade owner PepsiCo’s mission to commit to HBCUs and foster Black talent. Like his son, Deion — or “Coach Prime,” if you like — has a partnership with Pepsi as well. The beverage giant has additional plans to release its first HBCU-focused ad spot featuring the Jackson State and Florida A&M marching bands. PepsiCo also has multi-year partnerships with the National Battle of the Bands and is the primary beverage sponsor for the SWAC.
Shedeur is Gatorade’s second collegiate athlete to ink a name, image, and likeness deal, following UConn basketball phenom Paige Bueckers’ signing last year. He joins a roster that features superstars like Serena Williams, JJ Watt, Zion Williamson, Trevor Lawrence, DK Metcalf, Candace Parker, and Jayson Tatum.