College Football
Travis Hunter appearing on 'College Football 25' cover is another win for Colorado
College Football

Travis Hunter appearing on 'College Football 25' cover is another win for Colorado

Updated May. 31, 2024 2:56 p.m. ET

The significance of EA Sports' "NCAA Football" video game cover athletes used to set the table for Heisman and national title conversations.

EA officially unveiled its cover athletes last week, which includes a trio of college football stars: Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers, Michigan running back Donovan Edwards, and Colorado two-way star Travis Hunter.

This is a massive win for Colorado, who had never had a player featured on the cover. Now, Hunter is featured front and center next to two men that played in the College Football Playoff, one who is a national champion tailback, and the other being a standout quarterback who brought Texas back to national relevance.

This is a massive win for Colorado, who now has a cover athlete on the most highly-anticipated sports video game, perhaps, ever.


This is a massive win for Coach Prime and the Sanders family, despite no Deion, Shilo (Sanders) or Shedeur (Sanders) on the jewel box.

Five days after the NCAA cover reveal, Colorado announced it had sold out season tickets for the second time in as many years — a first in Boulder. And as I wrote earlier this year, Coach Prime’s program has brought an influx of prospective students signing up to hand you money for tuition and as alumni donors following Year 1 of Coach Prime.

Colorado football is, and has been, box office entertainment. The program continues to sell out games because of Prime, and no one of repute in this sport is ignorant of that fact. It seems that no one at EA Sports, a video game publisher with a market cap of $34.2 billion, nor the wider $188 billion video game industry is either. Indeed, video games in the U.S. alone are worth twice as much ($46.8 billion in 2022) as college football ($15.8 billion in 2019).

This leads us back to Hunter, a former top-ranked recruit who played both ways for the Buffs this past season, hauling in 57 catches for 721 yards and five TDs on offense, while also recording 30 tackles and three interceptions on defense. He is the first defender featured on the cover of "NCAA College Football" since Brian Orakpo in 2009 on PS2.

Someone greenlit Joey Harrington on the cover of "NCAA Football 2003" when Roy Williams tied on that crimson cape, made like Sargon and the Immortals, and snatched Texas’ soul on Oct. 6, 2001.

Now, this brings us to Shedeur Sanders, who is, of course, not featured on the "College Football 25" cover, but does have an NIL valuation of nearly $5 million. It wouldn't surprise anyone to know that he's making seven figures annually at Colorado with the hottest jersey sales in the sport last year.

But take into account that athletes who opted into "College Football 25" will be paid a flat $600 fee for the use of their name, image and likeness. And if we have learned anything about the Sanders family, it's that they are about their Chuck. Rhymes with buck. It spends green and makes your chain look mean.

Hunter, though?

"We were more focused on being on the cover," Hunter said. "We don’t care about NIL. It’s a dream come true."

RJ Young reacts to the NCAA College Football 25 video game cover

And now, he’s a bonafide preseason Heisman candidate (again). Not bad for a player on a team that finished 4-8 and got torched for 294 yards by Stanford wide receiver Elic Ayomanor last season. Those facts feel incidental given Hunter’s ability to go both ways — playing over 1,000 snaps in 2023 — and his prodigious talent.

And to think this all started at Jackson State, an HBCU in Jackson, Mississippi, where clean running water wasn't even an option for four months in 2022.

That isn't a sexy story to tell, though. It's not sexy to remind the adoring public that Jackson State gave Coach Prime the chance to show, to prove, he could bring attention, admiration, even adoration, to a program led by a Black man who turns over rosters like a danish that's just a little brown and has learned how to get more than 10 million people to watch a 4-8 team play at a program without an identity until he gave them one.

"College Football 25" is just the latest in a growing line of folks who have stood in line as the Coach Prime gravy train pulls into the station, and they have their empty bowls out.

RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast "The Number One College Football Show." Follow him at @RJ_Young and subscribe to "The RJ Young Show" on YouTube.


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