From his NIL profile, Caleb Eagans looks like a Power 5 football player. The speedster nicknamed “Dflash” has so many NIL opportunities that he can afford to be picky. He only works with a brand if it “represents me and who I am as a person,” he told FOS.

The NFL Draft Candidate has a deal with a local Dairy Queen – which includes events and commercial he just filmed – and with Elite Athletic Gear.

Eagans plays for East Texas Baptist University, a Division III school. While the wide receiver has spent most of his college career at Texas A&M, he is now finishing his eligibility as a Tiger while preparing for the draft.

It’s not just the rare pro prospects. Many lower division athletes sign NIL agreements – contradicting previous beliefs that only the most famous athletes would benefit.

Athliance CEO Peter Schoenthal told FOS: “A lot of people think of NIL as: ‘this is for the big school quarterbacks.’ The misconception is that you are only looking to use [athletes] in NIL through the prism of performance, not marketing. Performance drives some parts of marketing, but it’s not the end of everything.

Endless opportunities?

Most schools “weren’t prepared” for the idea that “their children were in fact marketable,” Schoenthal said. Many athletes also did not understand their own worth, NOCAP Sports co-founder and CEO Nicholas Lord told FOS.

In D-II alone, athletes from 101 schools reported NIL activity in Opendorse, according to to co-founder and CEO Blake Lawrence.

Some examples ? Andrew “Fresh Legs” Diaz, an offensive lineman at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, has a OK with Feltman’s hot dogs. The whole Whittier College football team has a NIL deal with a local restaurant, according to at GMTM.

Jake Brend, Simpson College tennis player announcement tennis lessons on Twitter – and the post went viral.

Over two months, D-II athletes earned an average of $ 108.70, according to Opendorse The data. Athlete D-III won $ 49.87. In D-II, female athletes did more than male athletes.

The data only includes information from schools that work with Opendorse, but it shows a definite market for these athletes.

Many ways to be marketable

The most followed athletes on social media are obvious NIL candidates, but even in D-II and D-III this is not a requirement.

“Micro-influencers are actually more valuable to brands – like athletes who have 5,000, 10,000 – because their followers are so much more engaged,” Casey Floyd, co-founder and chief executive officer, told FOS. NOCAP Sports compliance.

Players like Eagans particularly attract local brands like Big Fish in a Small Pond. “In a lot of these schools, their student-athletes are the biggest name in town,” Schoenthal said. “In these cities, they are Power 5 athletes.”

Experts agreed that they can also earn money as a “hometown hero” once back in their own community by hosting sports clinics during the summer vacation.

Finally, brands are looking for a diverse set of athletes for group offerings, Lord said, which is why they asked NOCAP to match them with lower division athletes.

Success plan

Experts said their advice is no different from what they would say to branded DI schools, especially if they aren’t viral social media stars.

“The reality is, you’re going to have to do a little more work if you have a smaller number of followers or social influence,” Lord said.

Being proactive is also essential, as brands won’t flow to every athlete from the start. “You don’t have to sit down and wait for NIL deals,” Schoenthal said. “And in fact, if you do, you probably won’t get any.”

And like Eagans, athletes need to know their “why,” Floyd said. “If you just go out there like, ‘I’m going to make a deal with anybody,’ it’s not long term success. It is not sustainable.

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