See more of the story

When it comes to predicting which NCAA athletes could profit most off their name, image and likeness, three Minnesota natives rank high on the list.

Gophers wrestler Gable Steveson has 245,000 Instagram followers, the most of any Big Ten athlete, according to the Big Ten Network.

Gonzaga basketball freshman Chet Holmgren has 278,000 Instagram followers, and the former Minnehaha Academy star hasn't even played his first college game yet.

Then there's Paige Bueckers, who became a household name last season as a freshman at UConn. The Hopkins native has 829,000 Instagram followers.

Starting Thursday, all NCAA athletes were free to start profiting off their name, image and likeness (NIL).

Sports business reporter Darren Rovell ranked the top 20 NCAA athletes with the most to gain for Action Sports. Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler, a Heisman Trophy favorite, and LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne (3.9 million TikTok followers) rank 1-2, respectively.

Bueckers ranks No. 6, with Holmgren at No. 11 and Steveson at No. 13.

Those huge social media followings will add to what Bueckers, Holmgren and Steveson could command for endorsements and the like. Navigate Research analyzed the world's top 100 professional athlete portfolios and calculated a value of about $0.80 for each Instagram follower, on average.

"When applied to Instagram followers for college athletes from the 2019-2020 school year, annual endorsement revenue estimates would be $700,000 for LSU's Joe Burrow, $440,000 for Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa, $390,000 for Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts and in the $5K-$30K range for less popular athletes," Navigate concluded.

Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan (10,000 Instagram followers) joined the fray Thursday, tweeting that he had joined Cameo, a platform that allows users to book personalized messages from their favorite people. The price for a Morgan message was $21, compared with $200 for former LPGA star Annika Sorenstam.

It's hard to say definitively how much Bueckers, Holmgren and Steveson can make, but their earning power only figures to keep rising.

Steveson, an Apple Valley native and reigning NCAA heavyweight champ, will be competing for Olympic gold this month.

Holmgren will be stepping in for a Gonzaga team that reached the NCAA championship game last season. (His former Minnehaha teammate, Jalen Suggs, left Gonzaga for the NBA after one magical season and has 460,000 Instagram followers.)

Bueckers has a chance to play her next Women's Final Four in Minneapolis next spring if UConn makes its usual March Madness run.

As Rovell notes in his article, "Most [NCAA athletes] won't make tens of thousands of dollars, but there's a select few who can really make some bank."