Florida State is looking to stay on top. Miami is trying to get there. Syracuse is starting over from scratch.

The 3 ACC football programs are in different stages of their development. But they do share at least one thing in common.

Each reached out to the transfer portal to bring in a high-profile quarterback.

How high-profile?

So high that the trio of Cam Ward (Miami), DJ Uiagalelei (FSU) and Kyle McCord (Syracuse) ranks 1-2-3 among ACC players in name, image and likeness value, according to rankings compiled by On3 Sports.

That shouldn’t come as a huge surprise since predictably, quarterbacks are traditionally the highest-paid player on every football team.

This year’s On3 NIL valuations bear that out. Of the top 20 names on the list nationally, 15 play the position – led by Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders at $4.5 million and Texas backup Arch Manning at $2.8 million.

Keep in mind that the dollar figures quoted are not the actual value of a player’s NIL deals, but rather the athlete’s current value based on an algorithm that factors in variables such as performance, influence and exposure.

But they’re still a useful tool, nonetheless.

So let’s take a look at the ACC’s 10 highest projected NIL earners heading into the 2024 season, at least a few of which might surprise you.

10. Patrick Payton, DE, Florida State

When Payton announced plans to enter the transfer portal last December, it was rumored that he was seeking an NIL deal equal to that of the player he’ll be counted on to replace as the Seminoles’ primary pass-rushing threat – 1st-round NFL Draft pick Jared Verse.

The redshirt junior is coming off a season in which he recorded a career-high 14 tackles for loss and 7 sacks in helping FSU to an undefeated regular season and first ACC championship since 2014.

Although he ended up returning to Tallahassee for significantly less than the $923,000 Verse brought in last year, his estimated value of $656,000, funded mainly through the school’s The Battle’s End cooperative, is still nothing to sneeze at. He ranks No. 64 on the On3 list nationally.

9. Luke Kromenhoek, QB, Florida State

Kromenhoek has yet to play his first college game and barring a catastrophic circumstance similar to last season, he won’t start a game all season. But he has 2 things going for him that helped land him on this list and rank 63rd nationally with an NIL value of $658,000.

He plays quarterback, a position that naturally lends itself to big financial numbers. And he’s funded by FSU’s well-funded NIL collective.

Kromenhoek is a 5-star recruit, rated as the No. 3 quarterback and No. 30 overall prospect nationally by On3. He’s slated to spend 2024 as an understudy to transfer DJ Uiagalelei after passing for 2,578 yards and 24 touchdowns in leading his team to a Georgia 4A state championship as a high school senior.

8. Ashton Gillotte, Edge, Louisville

Gillotte could have entered the NFL Draft after a breakout 2023 season that saw him lead the ACC in sacks while leading the Cardinals to their 1st ever trip to the conference championship game. But thanks to opportunities through Louisville’s 502Circle collective and Glow Brands, the parent company of Planet Fitness, Gillotte decided to return for his senior season.

The 1st-team All-ACC selection finished last season with 11 sacks, a total that ranked 8th nationally, to go along with 14.5 tackles for loss and 3 forced fumbles. His estimated NIL value of $658,000 ranks him 62nd on On3’s list.

7. Antwaun Powell-Ryland, Edge, Virginia Tech

Powell-Ryland finished 2nd to Gillotte in the ACC with 9.5 sacks last season, his 1st in Blacksburg after transferring from Florida. And like his Louisville rival, he delayed entry into the NFL draft to return to school this fall.

He is the highest-rated returning edge rusher in the ACC, according to Pro Football Focus. With a boost from the Hokies’ Triumph NIL collective, his On3 NIL valuation of $664,000 is slightly higher than Gillotte’s at No. 60 nationally.

6. Damien Martinez, RB, Miami

Martinez is the first of 2 high-value Miami transfers to make this list. He is an explosive running back who rushed for 1,185 yards and 9 touchdowns while earning All-Pac-12 honors at Oregon State last season. He is expected to be a major part of a Hurricanes offense completely revamped by coach Mario Cristobal this offseason.

And he didn’t come cheap.

According to ESPN, Martinez was due to earn in the neighborhood of $400,000 in 2024 through his former school’s Dam Nation Collective. His deal with Miami’s Canes Connection, a collective with a fundraising goal of $10 million annually, figures to be at least that much as he grows his brand in the much larger South Florida market. On3 estimates his NIL value at $699,000, 48th nationally among college football players.

5. Reuben Bain Jr., Edge, Miami

Canes Connection isn’t just using its NIL war chest to help Miami attract top transfers. Bain, a returning edge rusher who was the ACC’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2023, ranks 47th in On3’s rankings with an estimated value of $709,000.

Bain earned enough in NIL money as a consensus freshman All-American that he was able to buy his mother a new Cadillac Escalade for her birthday. The 6-2, 250-pound Miami native recorded 7.5 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss and 3 forced fumbles in his 1st college season.

4. Kaimon Rucker, Edge, North Carolina

Rucker’s value skyrocketed after starting last season with 2 sacks and 8 tackles in a nationally televised win against South Carolina. He finished the season with 61 stops, 8.5 and 41 total pressures, a figure that ranked 7th nationally by PFF.

It was a performance that made him a highly sought-after target for programs looking to coerce him into the transfer portal. But thanks to UNC’s successful “Hold The Line” initiative, its Heels4Life collective was able to work out deals that convinced both Rucker and star running back Omarion Hampton to remain in Chapel Hill.

The combination of Rucker’s school-sponsored NIL opportunities and his own “Ruck the Butcher” line of merchandise has helped set his valuation at $728,000, ranking him 44th on On3’s list.

3. Kyle McCord, QB, Syracuse

Being the quarterback at Ohio State carries a higher profile than playing the position at Syracuse. You could say the difference is like comparing apples to, well, the Orange. So while On3 has McCord’s NIL valuation at $840,000, the 3rd-highest among ACC players and No. 30 nationally, it might not be quite as high now that he’s left the Buckeyes.

Syracuse does have a collective, called Orange United. And there’s a good chance McCord has maintained his ties with the performance activewear company Rhoback. But it’s highly unlikely he’ll be tooling around campus in the 2023 Mercedes Benz AMG GT 53 he was driving as part of his sponsorship deal with a Columbus car dealership.

McCord threw for 3,170 yards and 24 touchdowns in leading OSU to an 11-1 record last season. But he decided to transfer after a loss to rival Michigan in the regular season finale when coach Ryan Day declined to commit to him as the starter in 2024.

2. DJ Uiagalelei, QB, Florida State

The graduate quarterback returns to the ACC with much more fanfare than when he was pushed out at Clemson in favor of Cade Klubnik 2 years ago. He blossomed in his 1 season at Oregon State, throwing for 2,638 yards and 21 touchdowns while also rushing for 6 scores, numbers that pushed his NIL valuation to a hefty $959,000, That’s the 21st-highest figure in the country.

A bulk of Uiagalelei’s value comes from the NIL deal he signed last year with Beats by Dre, reported to be worth $417,000. Since transferring to Florida State to replace Jordan Travis, who coincidentally had the 2nd-highest value among ACC players in 2023, he has signed deals with the Seminoles’ collective, The Battle’s End, and EA Sports College Football 25.

With upwards of 150,000 Instagram followers, the monetary value of his online presence is also significant.

1. Cam Ward, QB, Miami

The most telling indication of Ward’s NIL value comes from the fact that he withdrew his name from the NFL draft to transfer to the Hurricanes and play 1 final season of college football. On3 has set his number at $1.1 million, good for No. 15 on its list and tops among ACC players.

His arrival in Miami as the nation’s most sought-after transfer completes a meteoric rise from a no-star recruit who started his career at Incarnate Word, an FCS program. Ward spent the past 2 seasons at Washington State, where he threw for a combined 6,963 yards and 47 touchdowns with only 16 interceptions in 25 starts.

Ward signed with Miami’s Canes Connection collective shortly after arriving in South Beach. Then in March, his NIL marketing agent Jeffrey Weiner told On3 that Ward has added a partnership with a yet-to-be publicly identified “Fortune 500 company,”