Officially, these guys are still amateurs. They do not get paid to play football; instead, they are in college to study, learn, and earn a degree that will help them later on in life. They play football on the side, maybe as a hobby or as a chance to continue with a game they have loved since they were kids. Or maybe they play football because the scholarship it provides is their way to get through college.
We all know that college football programs are practically professional organizations that just so happened to be affiliated with the university. They rake in millions from the revenues earned through ticket sales, merchandise and television rights. One only has to check the frenzy during game days, especially during season-ending bowls or during rivalry games like Ohio State against Michigan, Florida versus Georgia, and Alabama versus Auburn.
Powerful and popular teams like Texas and archrivals Michigan and Notre Dame are all valued at more than $100 million. Then, there are the powerful Southeastern Conference teams, which have won the last seven national championships through titles by Louisiana State University, Auburn, Florida twice and Alabama thrice.
So if football programs will finally give the players their due, how much will the best players earn? Based on their talent, skills, marketability and the revenue of their respective teams, here now are the highest paid college football players.
Braxton Miller: Quarterback, Ohio State – $1.91 million
Braxton Miller is the quarterback for the Ohio State Buckeyes. The 6’2” junior came by way of Wayne High School in Huber Heights in Ohio. He also lettered in basketball while in high school. Different major college programs heavily recruited him, including Alabama, Cincinnati, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Southern California, West Virginia and Wisconsin, but he eventually committed to the Buckeyes in 2010. He was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2011, and Offensive Player of the Year and Quarterback of the Year in 2012. He was also chosen as a member of the All-Conference First Team in 2012. Miller is majoring in Communications.
Aaron Murray: Quarterback, Georgia – $2.89 million
Aaron Murray is the quarterback of the Georgia Bulldogs. He came from Plant High School in Tampa in Florida where he became a contender as the state’s Mr. Football. He was heavily recruited out of high school, getting scholarship offers from 53 schools. In 2008, he committed to Georgia, a team he led to the 2013 Capital One Bowl title. He is also the all time leader of the Southeastern Conference in terms of career touchdown passes. He was also part of the all-SEC team in 2011 as the second quarterback.
T.J. Yeldon: Running Back, Alabama – $2.91 million
T.J. Yeldon is a running back for the Alabama Crimson Tide. He attended Daphne High School in the state and was Alabama’s Mr. Football during his high school senior year. He was a high school All-American and was considered as the second best running back in his class in the entire country. He had a huge freshman year for the Crimson Tide, rushing for 1,108 yards on 154 carries and scoring 12 touchdowns. He had huge performances in both the SEC title game and the BCS Championship game, as he rushed for 153 yards against the Bulldogs in the former and ran for 110 yards and a touchdown against Notre Dame in the latter. Yeldon also holds the freshman record for running when he ended the season with 1,108 rushing yards total. He also tied Mark Ingram Jr.’s record after he scored 12 touchdowns for the entire year.
Johnny Manziel; Quarterback, Texas A&M – $3.14 million
Johnny Manziel is the quarterback of the Texas A&M Aggies. He also played basketball, baseball and golf back in Tivy High School in Kerrville in Texas, but even at such a young age, his football skills were already drawing comparisons with the likes of Brett Favre, Michael Vick and Drew Brees. He was the Senior Athlete of the Year during his senior year and was also an All-American. Out of high school, he got scholarship offers from Baylor, Colorado State, Iowa State, Louisiana Tech, Oregon, Rice, Stanford, Tulsa and Wyoming. He also got an offer from the school that he was a fan of, but Texas only offered him a defensive back position. Manziel then decided to play for Oregon, but later changed his commitment to the Aggies. He was called Johnny Football, and Manziel immediately broke several records. He became the first freshman and fifth player overall to pass for 3,000 yards and to rush for over 1,000 yards. He then led the Aggies to the Cotton Bowl crown. A Heisman Trophy capped his big year, making him the first freshman to win the award. He was also a consensus All-American, Freshman of the Year, Player of the Year, SEC Offensive Player of the Year and Male Athlete of the Year. He also won the Manning Award and the Davey O’Brien Award.
A.J. McCarron; Quarterback, Alabama – $5.83 million
A.J. McCarron is the quarterback of the Alabama Crimson Tide. He played for St. Paul’s Episcopal School back in high school, where he won the state championship during his junior year. He was also recruited by Mississippi, Tennessee, and Auburn, but he finally decided on going to their fellow Southeastern Conference superpower Alabama. He has been part of three national championships, and he has more than proven his worth as the starter in two of them. These were during the Tide’s consecutive championships in 2012 and 2013. He was also part of the team’s 2011 Capital One Bowl win where the Tide routed the Michigan State Spartans. McCarron was also adjudged as the BCS Offensive Most Valuable Player in 2012, when the Tide upset the then-undefeated Louisiana State University Tigers. The following year, he threw for three touchdowns as the Tide manhandled the Fighting Irish in the title game.