North Carolina's Drake Maye shares wealth with linemen in NIL campaign

Nakos updated headshotby:Pete Nakos10/27/23


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Drake Maye has never been about chasing the NIL dollars.

While some of the top stars in college football have their social media accounts littered with endorsement deal activations, the North Carolina quarterback opted to focus on his craft. Expected to be a top pick in this spring’s NFL draft, securing dollars in college just hasn’t been the focal point.

He could have entered the transfer portal this past offseason, which surely would’ve made him one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the nation. He instead stayed put in Chapel Hill, ensuring the Tar Heels would compete for an ACC title.

Maye apparently isn’t about taking up all the NIL deals, either. The quarterback inked an NIL contract with Mitchell Heating & Cooling in August. But instead of being the star of the TV commercial, he was emphatic that his four offensive linemen participated and took part of his compensation.

Throughout this season, Maye and four offensive linemen – William Barnes, Willie Lampkin, Spencer Rolland and Corey Gaynor – have been starring in TV and radio spots for the Rolesville, North Carolina, based brand.

Icon Source facilitated the agreement, working with Mediagistic and Storymore. Maye took a portion of the NIL agreement, but most of the deal has been cut four ways with his linemen. The deal shows off the power of name, image and likeness.

“What the business gets is the currency of a sports endorsement from a very well-loved, localized brand,” said Eddie Childs, who works for Mediagistic and hand-in-hand with Mitchell Heating & Cooling. “Their target audience, in these local markets, is a Drake Maye or whoever it may be. In these localized markets they have the same kind of pull of an Aaron Rodgers.

“We were trying to engage Drake initially. He was interested, but more for the sake of helping out his linemen. So, he worked at scale for this. I don’t know, he’s a down-to-earth guy, and he was just trying to work with those linemen and help them out.”

Drake Maye provides value to Mitchell Heating & Cooling

Maye is easily one of the most recognizable athletes in the Triangle. His odds of winning the Heisman Trophy soared this offseason, with many expecting him to unseat Caleb Williams. The 17th-ranked Tar Heels enter Saturday 6-1, coming off their first loss of the season last week to Virginia.

No matter what Maye does on the field the rest of the season, the partnership was a win for Mitchell Heating & Cooling. While many brands evaluate their return on investment through social media engagements, having the North Carolina quarterback stand next to the HVAC company’s team is invalauble.

Already an official partner of North Carolina athletics, Mitchell worked with Learfield’s Tar Heels Sports Properties to secure licensing for the commercials. The result was Maye and his four linemen standing on the grass in Kenan Memorial Stadium wearing their jerseys and promoting the brand. Barnes is repped by A&P Agency.

Securing the institution’s marks and intellectual property rights has become a popular move for brands. It only helps, as most athletes are more recognizable in their uniform or college environment.

“I think this one’s cool because – Drake has a Zoa Energy Drink deal, that’s a national brand,” Icon Source’s director of collegiate Mick Hamilton said. “He’s doing this HVAC deal, but it is a local company. It’s an interesting play, because obviously you’re going to get paid, and you’re going to bring your offensive lineman in. But also, you’re about to be on a commercial around your entire television local market. In my eyes, working with Mitchell is the smart move for Drake. It’s a better play because you get hyperlocal attention.

“Those local market companies typically have that kind of budget to do work with a superstar. So it’s really cool – hats off to Drake, man. I mean, I have a lot of respect for him kind of watching this thing play out.”

North Carolina quarterback prioritizes teammates

Working with CAA, the quarterback has worked with his fair share of big names including Bose and Campus. He also has a long-term agreement with the North Carolina-driven NIL collective Heels4Life.

But for Drake Maye, working with Mitchell Heating & Cooling was more than another endorsement deal. The North Carolina star made sure to take care of his offensive line. Some other college stars have stepped up like that. Williams brought his line to the Heisman ceremony and they starred in a deal with Postmates earlier this week. Quarterbacks and running backs have brought their linemen to dinners, too.

Stepping up to bring his guys a brand deal speaks volumes, though. Now 26 months into the NIL Era, collectives drive the most dollars in the space. And most deals are dependent on social media followings.

Maye was compensated but not at the level he would have been without bringing in his four linemen. Just more evidence from the North Carolina star of how NIL can be a win for teammates, not just stars.

“He didn’t get a massive payday here, he was working more to get his linemen a good payout,” Childs said.