KU football gets brief spotlight in EA Sports College Football 25 trailer

photo by: Mike Gunnoe/Journal-World photo

Kansas running back Devin Neal, raises his fist in celebration after scoring the first touchdown Friday, Sept. 1, 2023, against Missouri State.

One of the most anticipated video game trailers in recent memory took a few moments to spotlight the Kansas Jayhawks.

About 20 seconds into Friday morning’s “Gameplay Deep Dive” trailer for the upcoming EA Sports College Football 25 video game — the company’s first college football game since 2013 — the KU offense appears to underscore what narrator Kirk Herbstreit calls “a host of new mechanics that deliver the explosive, fast-paced gameplay unique to college football.”

In the short snippet, which depicts a play during the first quarter of a simulated game between Iowa State and No. 21 Kansas at the old David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, quarterback Jalon Daniels takes a snap out of the shotgun at around midfield and hands the ball to running back Devin Neal, who hurdles an ISU linebacker. The linebacker appears to be No. 33, which would be sophomore starter Jack Sadowsky V.

The trailer then shows a short close-up replay of Neal’s hurdle, except with players’ numbers changed to 23 and Neal’s last name replaced by “Shade” (there is no such player on the KU roster).

Based on number and position, the trailer also appears to depict the following KU players: wide receivers Lawrence Arnold and Luke Grimm, tight end Jared Casey and offensive linemen (from left to right) Calvin Clements, Michael Ford Jr., Shane Bumgardner, Kobe Baynes and Bryce Cabeldue.

That is a fairly accurate facsimile of KU’s starting offense, pending Clements’ injury status (Logan Brown may end up starting at left tackle) and whether Ford ends up starting at center over Bumgardner.

According to multiple reports, a player receives $600 and a copy of the game in exchange for lending his likeness to EA Sports. This will be the first college football video game released by EA since athletes received the opportunity to profit off their name, image and likeness rights.

Previous iterations in what used to be known as the NCAA Football series included nameless players identified only by number and position. However, the O’Bannon v. NCAA antitrust case challenged whether EA had actually appropriated certain elements of players’ likenesses even so, and amid that legal action and lost licensing agreements, EA brought the series to a close following its 2013 edition, NCAA Football 14.

The company now returns, after years of development and vague teases, with a college football game in the NIL era, set to release on July 19.

KU has been periodically included in promotional efforts in the lead-up to that release. Freshman running back Harry Stewart III, for example, took to social media to announce that he would be included in the game. A tiny KU helmet is also visible in the background of the cover of the game’s deluxe edition.

The inclusion of the currently mid-renovation David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium is consistent with a report from The Athletic that it will serve as the Jayhawks’ home venue when the game launches.

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