Top NFL quarterback prospects and former Heisman Trophy winners Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota have reportedly signed endorsement deals with Nike, the world's largest sportswear maker. Sources told ESPN that the duo, who could represent the top two overall picks in the NFL Draft later this month, are part of a major swoop of signings for Nike.
Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper, Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, and Georgia rusher Todd Gurley also reached deals with Nike. The terms of the deals were not disclosed.
In April 2012, Nike officially replaced Reebok as the league’s exclusive maker of licensed on-field apparel, including uniforms. Last season, Nike sent out a letter about players' customizing cleats that obscure the visibility of Nike's trademark swoosh. Quarterback Robert Griffin III, who is signed to Adidas, was seen with a shirt inscribed with the word "Heart" that concealed the Nike logo.
Scouts and NFL draft experts have projected Winston to be the top pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but recent reports indicate the Bucs are considering Mariota, as well.
Questions over Winston’s maturity and his actions away from football have come to light over the last year, but the former Florida State star was still able to draw presumably a lucrative endorsement contract from perhaps the most recognizable sportswear company in the nation.
Winston was accused of sexual assault last season, and though no criminal charges were filed, he was named the defendant in a civil lawsuit brought by his accuser Thursday. It’s alleged the incident took place in Dec. 2012, one year before Winston carried Florida State to an undefeated national championship season, claiming the coveted Heisman Trophy in the process.
In a statement, Nike made clear it was fully aware of Winston’s issues off the field.
"Jameis has stated his innocence regarding serious charges made against him," the statement reads. "We'll continue to monitor the situation."
Mariota has avoided off-the-field issues. The former Oregon Ducks star sewed up the Heisman Trophy last season with 4,454 passing yards and 43 touchdowns to only four interceptions while rushing for 770 yards and 15 more scores.