The July 1 start date for college athletes to be able to make money off their name, image and likeness didn’t exactly fall on the calendar where JT Daniels would have put it.
“I would like to focus on it, but it’s almost a little too late,” the UGA starting quarterback said. “Just for it coming out July 1. I’ve been in season mode since early June.”
The Bulldogs start preseason practice later this week.
Daniels’ opportunities to cash in on being the most marketable Georgia player won’t stop during the month of August in the lead-up to the marquee matchup with Clemson Sept. 4 in Charlotte.
Last week, Daniels joined UGA wide receiver George Pickens in a private signing with Sports Collectibles which Daniels works with exclusively for autographs with signed items starting at $93.95 for a USC photo to $1,075.95 for a signed Georgia jersey.
He joined UGA offensive linemen Jamaree Salyer, Justin Shaffer and Warren McClendon Wednesday night in Monroe at Campton Restaurant for a meet-and-greet photo opportunity for the first 250 customers in an effort to include teammates.
Coming in September will be a Daniels NFT (non-fungible token), a unique digital offering. That’s through Candy Digital, which is creating NFT collectables also for Clemson’s D.J. Uiagalelei, North Carolina’s Sam Howell and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder.
“I’m delegating it all to the management company,” Daniels said of ESM which handles his NIL deals. “It’s a great opportunity. There are things we’ll do and opportunities that I’m sure will come up, but I’ve been treating the last two months in season mode. It’s difficult to put too much emphasis on it.”
One month into the NIL era, Alabama’s Nick Saban talked about how quarterback Bryce Young has nearly a $1 million in endorsements before starting a college game and LSU’s Ed Orgeron told the Baton Rouge rotary club, according to Tiger Droppings: “We are paying players now. Name, image and likeness. So you guys want to pay our players? You finally can. Go ahead!”
N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said he expects some teams will have “guys that will make a ton of money and (coaches are) going to walk into a home and say come here, you can be like that. You can predict that’s going to happen. How much is it going to happen in the ACC where one school (Clemson) has it all and the rest of us have nothing, I don’t know.”
Georgia running back James Cook and cornerback Kelee Ringo are among several college players who have NIL deals with Bojangles. Uiagalelei hawked the chicken and biscuits fast-food chain on his Instagram.
“California, we don’t have Bojangles down there,” said Uiagalelei, who is from outside of Los Angeles. “I remember one thing coming down here to the South, one thing I definitely learned is Jesus is number one here, then it goes football, and then it goes down people love Bojangles down here.”
Uiagalelei signed with VaynerSports to handle his NIL marketing as the door finally opened for college athletes to profit off their celebrity after state legislatures enacted laws that forced the hand of the NCAA to follow.
“It’s been a disservice to college football players for a long time, not being able to monetize off their NIL” said Florida State quarterback McKenzie Milton.
Milton, the UCF transfer, and Miami quarterback D’Eriq King teamed with Luis Pardillo and his partners at Dreamfield, a platform for NIL deals for college athletes. It helps them determine market rates, connects them with local businesses or even get comped for food, Milton said.
“I’m excited to see what these college athletes, what they run and do it, whether it’s making podcasts, YouTube podcasts, channels, whatever their own merchandise,” Milton said. “It’s something that’s pretty cool.”
Georgia outside linebacker Nolan Smith, wide receiver Arian Smith and baseball pitcher Jaden Woods are among players on Dreamfield.
Other Georgia players who have entered into NIL deals recently: outside linebacker Adam Anderson with Georgia Autographs for appearances and signings, Salyer with Roc Nation Sports and Shaffer with Agency 1 for NIL representation, offensive lineman Amarius Mims with Zaby’s and ColaKicks shoes in Augusta along with walk-on Braxton Hicks, Daniels posted to his Instagram he planned to continue to support Watkinsville-based ESP Inc., which creates transformative experiences for people with disabilities.
Salyer, Shaffer and running back Zamir White took part in an autograph signing in Atlanta in July.
White, running back Kendall Milton, kicker Jack Podlesny and defensive back Latavious Brini have personal brands with Eikonic Brands and are brand ambassadors for The Seven Six Apparel Co.
“I think what they’ve done is incredible and it’s a great opportunity that a lot of former players missed out on,” coach Kirby Smart said. “And I don’t think it’s going to have the same impact … that a lot of people do. I think it’s going to work itself out, it’s going to settle itself out. I don’t know a lot of branded companies that are going to invest in an 18, 19, 20-year old that’s an unproven commodity. What might he do that they might not expect. I think you’re going to find smaller deals, which is what we’ve seen for the most part so far.”
One of Georgia’s biggest stars, nose guard Jordan Davis, is sitting out NIL so far.
“I think the NIL is a very good tool for younger players,” Davis said on July 20. “I haven’t really done anything. It’s confusing. I’m just more worried about the game because no matter who you are, no matter where you are, NIL is not going to work out for you if you’re not good at football. Coming from three years and you don’t have this opportunity. It’s just a lot. We have a saying to keep the main thing the main thing so my main thing is playing ball. That’s all I’m worried about right now.”