‘College Football 25’ cover will feature Travis Hunter, Quinn Ewers and Donovan Edwards in return on July 19

Ross Dellenger

College Football 25 marks the return of one of the most popular sports video games ever. (EA Sports)

College Football 25 will mark the return of one of the most popular sports video games ever. (EA Sports)

On July 19, history will be made.

Electronic Arts plans to launch its long-anticipated college football video game on that date. But two months before the reintroduction of one of the most popular sports games ever, another historic moment unfolded Thursday: the release of the game’s cover.

Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers, Michigan running back Donovan Edwards and Colorado wide receiver/defensive back Travis Hunter are on the cover together fully in uniform, splashed across the front of the game’s historic return cover.

“They’re going to remember all three of us, that we were the first guys on the cover to bring it back,” said Ewers.

In a seminal moment in college sports history, the “College Football 25” national cover and deluxe edition cover both feature the three players by using — get this — their name, image and likeness. Those three words, known even more by their acronym (NIL), are responsible for the original reason for the game’s discontinuation. The company last released a game in 2013 before legal challenges over the use of players’ NIL ended the series, most notably a case involving former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon.

More than a decade later, in a timely release, the game triumphantly returns at a time of impending seismic change coming to the college sports model — change first sparked, in many ways, by O’Bannon’s lawsuit years ago.

In a virtual group interview with select reporters, Ewers, Hunter and Edwards described the exciting moment when officials offered them a cover spot, spoke about their bond while on the cover photo shoot and shot down any talk about earning compensation from the deal.

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

In perhaps the biggest NIL mass offer in history, EA Sports distributed offers to more than 11,000 football players, signing up thousands for their appearance in the game. Each offer was for $600 and includes a copy of the game. More prominent players are designated as EA Sports “ambassadors” and are expected to have inked more lucrative deals.

EA Sports provided a tease on Thursday. The cover reveal is only an appetizer to the full game’s unveiling on Friday.

The standard and deluxe editions of “College Football 25” are available for pre-order now. Throughout the summer, various elements of the game will be revealed to fans, such as Thursday’s cover, which just so happens to feature a Michigan Wolverine.

Edwards, five months removed from winning a national championship, graces the cover 11 years after another UM alum was featured on the game’s last cover: Denard Robinson.

“Michigan has a reputation of players being on the cover of the game. To be able to be selected by EA, it’s a surreal moment, especially being a kid who played the game growing up,” Edwards said. “My best moments came from playing NCAA 14. Just for it to be back and be on the cover, it’s an awesome feeling.”

The NCAA football game series began in 1993 under the title “Bill Walsh College Football.” The company’s last game, “NCAA Football 2014,” was released in July 2013. About a week later, amid simmering litigation over the use of players’ NIL, the NCAA announced that it would not be renewing its contract with EA Sports.

More than a decade later, it’s back.

“I still play the game on my computer. I play NCAA 14, play road to glory, make myself go both ways,” Hunter said. “I got all my brothers playing it on the PC. I’m excited to get the updated version and play as myself.”

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