It's not clear if Sam Huard and Kyler Gordon were trading-card enthusiasts as kids — imagine them bantering back and forth, 'I'll trade you a Russell Wilson for two Richard Shermans' — but they are now.
The University of Washington freshman quarterback and sophomore cornerback are part of an 80- to 90-card set of top college players soon to be released by Onyx Authenticated in Orlando, Florida.
As trading cards enjoy another boom for collectors and the NCAA enables athletes to cash in, Huard and Gordon will be compensated undisclosed amounts through name, image and likeness (NIL) agreements forged with Onyx.
Quarterbacks Bryce Young of Alabama, Spencer Rattler of Oklahoma, DJ Uiagalelei of Clemson and Mississippi's Matt Corral are among the card-set headliners, with everyone's selection based on football performance or potential.
"We work with different agencies, agents and scouts and these are guys they've evaluated who will go high in the draft, and not just next year, but the year after that," said Lance Fischer, Onyx president. "Our list is not 100 percent complete yet, but we think people who are college football fans will enjoy having the largest stars in one set."
Fischer, who founded his company 13 years ago, at one time worked as a recruiting assistant for a Bobby Bowden-led Florida State University football program.
Huard's inclusion in the Onyx set is based solely on his football promise. He hasn't appeared in a game yet at the UW, though that could change soon. The first-year player from Bellevue, Washington, had a representative secure the card deal for him.
"With his 5-star status and potential, Sam was a no-brainer for us," Fischer said of the left-handed quarterback. "We think that kid is going to be great. We're really excited to have him. I think he's definitely going to be an NFL first-rounder some day."
Gordon, who's from Mukilteo, Washington, and has started parts of three seasons in the Husky secondary, likewise is building a football profile that has made him marketable for NIL deals.
"He's being looked at highly, not just by scouts but by the agency representing him," Fischer said. "He's going to be a good one. Whether or not he's a first-rounder, we'll see. But he's definitely a talent to be a top three-round pick."
The Onyx card set is scheduled for release in November and, with the cost of NIL agreements and the enormous popularity again in card-collecting, it's a little pricey.
The company will package four cards together at a time, two of them autographed, and sell them for $40-$45 at hobby shops. Single cards will be made available through special offerings on Twitter. All of the cards, of course, eventually will make their way on to eBay.
"It's crazy how it's taken off again — it was the perfect storm," Fischer said. "Because of COVID, people pulled their old cards out of the closet. Prior to that, there was a lot of interest from investors, new money. When you put all of that together, you've now got such a high demand, basically manufacturers can't produce enough."
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