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NIL Deals of the Week: Celsius scoops up Bryce Young, Caleb Williams

Nakos updated headshotby:Pete Nakos12/15/22


Another stacked week of deals across the NIL landscape.

Celsius, the sports energy drink, took advantage of the Heisman moment to sign Bryce Young and Caleb Willams to deals. Two of the most recognizable names in college football bring immediate attention to the brand.

And Bryce and Bronny James are not wasting time. LeBron James‘ two sons were welcomed to the Klutch Sports Group family this week. Fittingly, Klutch was founded by James’ longtime friend and sports agent Rich Paul.

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

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

Celsius sports drink inks Bryce Young, Caleb Williams to deals

Before Caleb Williams became the second consecutive sophomore quarterback to win the Heisman last weekend, he inked a NIL agreement with the fitness energy drink Celsius. It was a smart move from the company which has quickly become a disruptive brand in the energy drink world.

Williams won college football’s top honor, giving the brand the perfect opportunity to market the USC quarterback. Celsius did not stop there, however, scooping up last year’s Heisman winner and Alabama quarterback Bryce Young.

Arguably the two most recognized in college football this season, signing the quarterbacks brings national attention to the partnerships. Celsius is not new to the NIL space. But signing Young and Williams could be a sign of things to come.

As part of the agreement, the quarterbacks will promote the brand across their social media channels. Since the start of the NCAA’s NIL era in July 2021, Young and Williams have emerged as some of the most successful athletes in the space.

Young has signed endorsement deals with Fanatics, Dollar Shave Club and NOBULL. He is also starring in Dr. Pepper’s Fansville commercials. The Alabama star has been featured next to Tim Tebow and Baker Mayfield in Nissan’s Heisman House ads throughout the season.

Next season, Williams will star in the same commercials as the latest Heisman winner. Celsius marks the third drink company to partner with the USC quarterback. He previously announced deals with AC+ION Water and Athletic Brewing Company.

Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Young, currently sits atop the college football NIL rankings with a $3.5 million On3 NIL Valuation. And Williams is right behind in the No. 2 spot with a $3.2 million evaluation.

Bryce, Bronny James sign with Klutch Sports Group

If there was any doubt Bryce and Bronny James were destined to be NIL stars, that went away this week. The two sons of LeBron James were welcomed into the Klutch Sports Group family on back-to-back days.

A Los Angeles-based sports agency, Klutch was founded by LeBron James’ longtime friend and sports agent Rich Paul.

Bronny has had no problem finding NIL opportunities with Nike and PSD Underwear. Recently, he appeared in a Beats by Dre commercial next to his father. The senior at Sierra Canyon School in Chatsworth, California, has received offers from MemphisOhio StateUSCNorth Carolina A&T and North Carolina Central.

Only a sophomore at Sierra Canyon, Bryce made his varsity debut in the last month. A 6-foot-2, 160-pound shooting guard, he received his first college offer in August from Duquesne.

The combination of Bronny and Bryce James’ family, plus their basketball potential, will provide them with numerous opportunities in the NIL landscape. Each has massive On3 NIL Valuations, too.

Bronny James has more than 12 million followers on social media between his Instagram and TikTok accounts, while Bryce has roughly 2.5 million social media followers.

Bronny James has an On3 NIL Valuation of $7.5 million, which represents his projected annual value in the NIL landscape and ranks No. 1 in the On3 NIL 100. The On3 NIL Valuation is a proprietary algorithm that factors in data points such as an athlete’s performance, influence and exposure.

Bryce James has an On3 NIL Valuation of $1.1 million, which ranks No. 21 in the On3 NIL 100.

Bella Rasmussen makes NIL history

Another first in the NIL Era, this week coming from the high school ranks.

Bella Rasmussen made California high school history when she became the first girl to score two touchdowns in a varsity football game. This week, the Laguna Beach High senior made history again as the first female football player to land a NIL deal.

Rasmussen has agreed to an endorsement deal with KeyWise to promote its newly released KeyWise Skye app. The app acts as a fitness tracker for your brain. The agreement was facilitated by MarketPryce and announced Tuesday. Multiple experts told On3’s Jeremy Crabtree they believe the NIL agreement is the first for a female football player.

Since she scored two touchdowns for Laguna, she’s appeared on “The Today Show,” the “Jennifer Hudson Show,” and on “Access Hollywood.” Countless brands have reached out to her, too, but she wanted to make sure she did not just partner with any company.

Working with KeyWise to promote mental health was a strong fit. Rasmussen has an On3 NIL Valuation of $18,400, and that’s surely going to expand as her social media presence expands and more people and brands become aware of her story. Until she decides what’s next, Rasmussen plans to continue to look for ways she can make a positive impact through her NIL.

LifeWallet re-ups deals with four Miami football players

John Ruiz has emerged as one of the biggest names in NIL over the past 17 months.

The owner of LifeWallet and Cigarette Racing has used name, image and likeness deals to help promote his companies. He allocated $10 million to spend on compensating student-athletes in Year 1 and plans to grow his investment.

Over the past few days, he has re-upped contracts with Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, safety Kamren Kinchens and cornerback Te’Cory Couch. As part of the agreement, Ruiz is adding a new layer to the activation. Athletes will have a little brother or sister to give back to the Miami community.

While so much of the country is currently focused on roster retention, Ruiz is evaluating his return on investment. The Hurricanes finished just 5-7 in Mario Cristobal‘s first season back in Coral Gables. But Ruiz is not judging his return on investment by an on-field product. Because of NIL, the national profile of LifeWallet, Cigarette Racing and Ruiz have all been on the rise.

“We will be supportive of athletes that provide an ROI to LifeWallet, while having to fulfill their contractual obligations,” Ruiz told On3.

Auburn O-linemen to get free food from Baumhower’s Victory Grille

On To Victory continues to deliver for Auburn athletes.

The chief NIL collective backing Tiger athletes announced last week it had signed the entire men’s and women’s basketball rosters, along with the volleyball team. Thanks to a few generous donors, pooling together the funds to compensate more than 40 athletes was not a problem.

This week, the collective is taking care of the men in the trenches for Auburn football. On To Victory facilitated an agreement with offensive linemen contracted with the collective and Baumhower’s Victory Grille Auburn. As part of the deal, the linemen will have the opportunity to eat free at the restaurant known for sports, fun times and quality food. In addition, the offensive linemen’s families can join them at certain times.

In return for the free wings and other pub grub, the O-linemen will promote Baumhower’s Victory Grille Auburn on social media. Plus, they will also make personal appearances and be featured on a wall in the restaurant.

“I am also excited about the opportunity for their families,” On To Victory executive director Brett Whiteside told On3. “This is one of the first NIL deals I have seen that includes supporting student-athletes’ families. This is one of the first deals we have done with local businesses. I can think of no better influencer in this area than an Auburn University student-athlete.”

Sources confirmed to On3’s Auburn Live in September the collective raised more than $10 million in the first month of its 30 in 3 campaign. That number has reportedly ballooned to $13 million and has passed the $15 million threshold.

The collective’s $30 million fundraiser goal is still on track. And with Hugh Freeze’s introduction as the next Auburn head coach last week, there has been an uptick in donations. Whiteside and On To Victory are not slowing down anytime soon, though. With a background in football recruiting, the executive director knows the impact NIL will continue to play across the college athletics landscape.

Honorable Mention

  • South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler signed with Dick Dyer Mercedes-Benz. As part of the partnership, Rattler is shown driving a garnet-colored Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon.
  •  Alabama receiver Isaiah Bond announced through social media a new NIL deal with Foot Locker. As part of the deal, Bond is promoting Reebok.
  • Five-star offensive lineman Samson Okunlola of Brockton (Massachusetts) Thayer Academy is known for his pancakes on the field. He’s developed an alter ego known as “Pancake Honcho.” So, it’s only fitting he promoted Kodiak Cakes  the company known for its protein and vitamin-infused flapjacks – this week.
  • The Anchor Collective, a Vanderbilt-focused NIL organization, signed multiple football players to deals. Included are quarterback AJ Swann and receiver Will Sheppard.
  • Four-star receiver and UCLA commit Grant Gray has signed with The Network Advisory (TNA) for NIL representation.