LOCAL SPORTS: ESPN reports Los Al Griffin QB Nelson to sign 7-figures worth of NIL deals

photo courtesy of Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Multiple sports news outlets have reported that Los Alamitos senior quarterback Malachi Nelson is expected to agree to almost $1 million in endorsement deals by the time he steps foot on the USC Trojans’ campus next year.

Nelson, the No. 2 ranked QB in this years high school senior class, told ESPN’s Pete Thamel that he has signed a name, image and likeness (NIL) deal with The h.wood Group, a Los Angeles-based global hospitality firm founded by former Trojans walk-on quarterback John Terzian and his partner Brian Toll.  The firm has over 30 restaurants and clubs worldwide that are frequented by Drake and the Kardashians and the like.

This kind of ground-breaking news in this new era should not be a surprise.  Nelson’s first scholarship offer (from Auburn) came in eighth grade, he boasts 32,000 Instagram followers and his statistics at Griffin-ville include 70 touchdown passes and more than 5,000 passing yards. Such numbers have put him behind only superstar rookie QB Ark Manning. Nelson joined Lincoln Riley’s USC program after receiving offers from almost every leading program in the country.

As California is the first state to allow high school athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness (and one of only ten states in the nation), Nelson is a true pioneer among a new generation of football recruits, for whom endorsements can come long before the first college practice.

The ESPN story also notes how Nelson and his father have gone about this very carefully and judiciously, well aware that this is new territory and NIL deals for college are not the ultimate goal. Eric Nelson is a senior pastor at Calvary Chapel WestGrove in Garden Grove, California. He amnd his wife of 20 years, Naomi, have three kids, including Malachi.

The most visible evidence of the younger Nelson’s newfound status might be in the Griffin student parking lot, where he will be upgrading from his 1999 Ford Escape — nicknamed The Dragon — that had no bumper and an affinity for unreliability.  His new car will be a  2022 Mercedes AMG GLE 53 Coupe. But then again, some might think he’s just another Rossmoor student.


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