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NIL Deals of the Week: College World Series, big partnerships for QBs highlight busy period

Jeremy Crabtreeby:Jeremy Crabtree06/15/24


Summertime usually means slower amounts of NIL deals announced. But with the College World Series in full swing, brands expanding their reach and football recruiting heating up, there are still plenty of creative and original partnerships to highlight in this week’s NIL Deals of the Week.

With a mission to highlight the top deals, the On3 NIL team will focus on identifying noteworthy deals in the college athletics landscape.

As a reminder, feel free to submit info on your NIL deal to On3. You can email [email protected] or reach out via DM or comment on Twitter to @On3NIL. Direct messages are open, too, on the @On3NIL Instagram account.

Let’s get to the deals that highlighted this week in NIL.

Tennessee baseball signs teamwide deal with Volunteer Club

The Tennessee baseball team traveled in style to Omaha for the College World Series.

The Volunteers left Knoxville Wednesday afternoon, and as part of a teamwide NIL deal with the Tennessee-driven collective The Volunteer Club, players wore special edition College World Series T-shirts. The front of the shirts said “The Volunteer Club” with No. 24, alluding to 2024. And on the back is the same number with “Omaha” written on the back. It’s a unique endorsement deal with players wearing the collective’s name while participating in an activation.

Brandon Spurlock, a partner with The Volunteer Club, told On3 that every player on this year’s team was compensated. It also works as a marketing campaign. Jerseys are for sale for fans to purchase to support NIL efforts.

“To have the entire team wearing the collective’s name across their chests really shows the synergy and the total buy-in from our team, our donors, the coaches, the players and the administration at Tennessee,” Spurlock said. “It’s a place we haven’t, not just at Tennessee, but even in the NIL world the last three years, it’s a place we haven’t necessarily been able to go. We’re proud of the recognition as the as the nation’s No. 1 NIL destination.”

Tennessee is also making sure to provide an opportunity for athletes to leverage their NIL on the ground in Omaha. Plans are in place for autograph sessions on Saturday afternoon. Jerseys will be on sale along with other Volunteer Club items.

Florida’s Jac Caglianone becomes first college baseball player to sign NIL deal with Topps, Fanatics

Florida two-way player Jac Caglianone has signed a historic NIL deal ahead of the College World Series.

The NCBWA Division I first-team All-America selection signed deals with Topps and Fanatics, becoming the first college baseball player to ink such an agreement. Common in college football and basketball, it’s a major moment for Caglianone, who is expected to be a top-10 pick in the 2024 MLB draft.

The first baseman and pitcher has business to attend to first in Omaha. A finalist for the 2024 Dick Howser Trophy, given to the top player in college baseball, Caglianone has batted .411 on the year with 33 home runs, 79 runs scored and 68 RBI. He ranks second nationally in home runs, fourth in slugging and sixth in batting average.

Caglianone’s memorabilia is already on sale on Fanatics. A Jac Caglianone autographed baseball is currently priced at $89.99. Expected to be a top pick in the MLB and already touting more than 46,000 social media followers, the partnership is a no-brainer for Topps and Fanatics.

K-State QB Avery Johnson releases new NIL merchandise

Avery Johnson has become the face of the Kansas State program this offseason. The former four-star prospect played in eight games as a true freshman in 2023. His first true start came in the Pop-Tarts Bowl against NC State, earning MVP honors en route to leading the Wildcats to a 28-19 victory.

With plenty of notoriety among the K-State fanbase and college football landscape, Johnson is now capitalizing on his NIL. As part of a new deal, the sophomore released merchandise, including new branded T-shirts, long-sleeve shirts and sweatshirts.

Prices start at $42.99. The apparel features Johnson’s logo, photos of the quarterback and some illustrations.

Florida QB Graham Mertz inks deal with Mercedes-Benz dealer

Graham Mertz will be riding around in style for his final season of college football. The Florida quarterback announced an NIL partnership with the Mercedes-Benz of Gainesville dealership. It’s not the first time he’s done work with a car dealership during his college career. He landed a Range Rover Sport Supercharged in an NIL partnership with Essential Motors NJ in February 2023.

Full details of the agreement were not disclosed, but Mertz will work with the company throughout the summer and fall, making appearances and promoting on social media.

In his first year in the SEC, Mertz threw for 2,903 yards and 20 touchdowns with just three interceptions. He also led the SEC with a 72.9% completion percentage. The Gators finished 5-7, as the quarterback missed the last game of the season with a collarbone injury. Now fully recovered, he enters the summer as Florida’s starting quarterback.

Mizzou QB commit Matt Zollers inks Leaf Trading Cards deal

Matt Zollers is the latest to join a growing fraternity of high school quarterbacks.

The Missouri commit and the five-star quarterback, according to the On3 Industry Ranking, has become the latest top recruit to ink an NIL deal with Leaf Trading Cards, On3 has learned. The No. 31 overall prospect in his class will be featured in future card drops.

Zollers’ trading card deal comes a week after he inked an NIL deal with Westwood Home Services. In exchange for commercial appearances and social media collaborations, Zollers was handed the keys to a Dodge Challenger for his final months at Spring-Ford High School.

Now the 6-foot-3.5, 203-pound quarterback will have his own trading card. He joins USC quarterback commit Julian Lewis, Florida quarterback DJ Lagway, Tennessee quarterback commit George MacIntyre and 2027 quarterback Peyton Houston as the high schoolers to have deals with Leaf. Full terms of the agreement between Zollers and Leaf were not disclosed.

Zollers is repped in NIL by Aurum Sports’ agent Joe Gazza.

Pennsylvania is one of 37 local athletic associations that allow athletes to participate in NIL deals on the high school level. The top-ranked recruit in Pennsylvania is building out his NIL portfolio before he even arrives at Mizzou.

Other NIL deals of note

  • Twin Texas high school track stars Nicole Humphries and Samantha Humphries signed NIL deals with HOKA. The future Oregon Duck middle-distance runners signed the deals with the running shoe giant after they exhausted their eligibility at Flower Mound High School. NIL deals are not allowed for high school athletes in the Lone Star State. Nicole recently won the 800-meter title with a Texas 6A state-meet record time of 2:06.24. Samantha previously won the state title in 2022 and had the seventh-best time in the nation this year before suffering a season-ending injury after the district meet.
  • South Carolina linebacker Debo Williams is promoting the Joye Law Firm through a new NIL partnership. Williams recorded 113 tackles with nine tackles for loss and one sack in 2023. The tackles tally ranked third in the SEC and is the most recorded by a Gamecock since the 2002 season.
  • Some NIL deals were just meant to be. Arkansas freshman pitcher Hunter Dietz announced a new NIL deal with Dietz & Watson, a national meat and cheese producer that’s been in business since 1939. The company known for its Dietz Dogs and Dietz Nuts called the deal a “match made in hot dog heaven.” Dietz arrived in Fayetteville as the No. 10 overall prospect and the No. 2 left-handed pitcher, according to Perfect Game.
  • North Carolina three-star defensive line signee Peter Pesansky inked an NIL deal with NC Carpet Binding through an agreement orchestrated by the Heels4Life collective. NC Carpet Binding is the world’s largest manufacturer of carpet binding equipment. Pesansky is promoting the products on his social media and on video and podcast appearances.