LAS VEGAS (ABC4 Sports) – As we enter the third football season with Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) deals in place for college athletes, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham could not stress how relevant they for the game.

“They’re the most important thing in college football,” Whittingham said at Pac-12 Media Day in Las Vegas last Friday. “It’s the most important thing in recruiting, which the most important thing to your program.”

While some elite athletes like Utes quarterback Cam Rising and tight end Brant Kuithe, can make six or even seven figures in NIL deals, most don’t. While Whittingham wants players to be compensated in some way, he thinks some of the NIL deals need to be reigned in.

“I think the concept of NIL is a big positive,” Whittingham said. “I like seeing the players get some monetary reward for their abilities and what they’re doing. It’s a little bit out of control right now. There’s no guardrails, there’s not parameters. And I don’t see that changing unless Congress steps in. I don’t know how you get this thing in a situation where it’s regulated.”

Rising could of left for the NFL last year, but he’s probably making more in NIL deals at Utah than he would as a rookie in the NFL, which he said did contribute to his decision to come back.

“It was a part of it for sure,” Rising said. “It just made [the decision] that much easier. I have met people and been a part of different situations that I really didn’t have exposure to. Because of that, I have more connections. It just made my life that much easier.”

This past off-season, Utah established the Crimson Collective, to allow local businesses to contribute to fund used to attract big-time recruits.

“I think NIL helps us focus on what we’re here to do — play football and go to school,” said safety Cole Bishop. “Not having to worry about financial things and being able to be taken care of in that aspect, so we can focus on football.”