BYU’s Walk-On NIL Deal Is Key To Keeping Players From Entering Portal

Mar 14, 2022, 2:44 PM

BYU Football - Ed Lamb - Kalani Sitake...

BYU assistant head coach, special teams coordinator and safeties coach Ed Lamb talks with head coach Kalani Sitake as the BYU Cougars and the Idaho State Bengals play at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

(Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – BYU football has always had an extremely strong walk-on program with a number of those players going on to see significant playing time and ultimately earning a scholarship.

In the era of players able to be compensated for their name, image, and likeness, the Cougars are excelling even more with a deal the team has with Built Bar that covers tuition for walk-ons, plus another $1,000 for scholarship players.

The NCAA is looking into these types of deals but with NIL being so new and rules varying by state it is going to be extremely hard for the NCAA to crack down on deals like BYU’s.

These types of deals are huge in keeping athletes on BYU’s roster and out of the transfer portal. They don’t get cost of attendance like scholarship athletes earn, but not having to worry about paying for school or getting a job is a huge benefit.

BYU’s assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Ed Lamb joined Unrivaled and noted how valuable their team-wide NIL deal is in keeping players from entering the transfer portal.

“We really worry about losing those walk-ons each year to transfer opportunities,” Lamb said. “I thought that last year when Built Bar made that announcement and for a lot of our guys it took the pressure off of them, it wasn’t about necessarily the money of earning a scholarship.

“If they still felt like there was a better place for them, they obviously still have that option, but I thought it helped us retain players. Recruiting-wise we have to be really careful about using it because Built Bar has the option to do that each year or not do that, and we also can’t promise it to any walk-on. There’s still some rules that we have to follow as far as what that name, image, and likeness.”

NIL deals can’t be pay for play or entice players with a deal that will be guaranteed during the recruiting process. 

How To Gauge Intensity During Spring Football

BYU is heading into its third week of spring football and with so many starters and key contributors back from last year’s team, the type of practices are different based on players and coaches returning.

The Cougars are settled at a lot of positions like quarterback, tight end, wide receivers, and most of the defense. One of the few starting positions is up for grabs is the running back vacancy left by Tyler Allgeier who put his name into the NFL Draft.

Coach Lamb noted that with so many players back there is no real need to be extremely physical and they can still figure out the depth chart heading into 2022 without needing as many full-padded or extremely physical practices.

“I think every team every year is a little different. Like the number of returning starters certainly would be a major criteria,” Lamb said. “How much work do we need with live tackle football? I think we don’t need a lot of that. There’s some good physicality, some good spirits, and good competition, but we haven’t purposely put anybody on the ground yet.”

It takes a seasoned coach like Lamb who has been around a number of programs to help understand a team’s needs when it comes to practice. 

With so much experience back for the Cougars, spring practice doesn’t need to be used to figure out who is the starter at the majority of the positions. Instead, they can focus on installing new plays and schemes to get better as a team overall. So, there is not much need for full-contact football just to figure out who the starters are but just fine-tuning and adding to the playbook.

Tune into Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 3-7 p .m. on 1280 The Zone and 97.5 FM or subscribe to the podcast. Also, download the all-new KSL Sports app on iOS or Android.

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BYU’s Walk-On NIL Deal Is Key To Keeping Players From Entering Portal