We didn’t write a lot about Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) when the NCAA decided to allow college athletes to benefit off their own brand — other than kicking around some ideas for some of West Virginia’s in-state athletes on Twitter — largely because the first couple days turned into the Wild West with everyone rushing to throw money at every top college player, which undoubtedly gave some compliance departments a panic attack.
Six months later, the NIL scene has leveled out a bit and we’re starting to see some of these deals come to fruition. If you’re in West Virginia, I’m sure you’ve passed the Morgan & Morgan Insurance billboards that featured a rotating cast of Dante Stills, Doug Nester, James Gmiter and Zach Frazier, but those aren’t the kind of paid advertisements that we were all waiting on.
We got our first glimpse at the sort of deals we were waiting for in October when Stills and Nester appeared in a local Little General commercial that aired during one of the 4:30 NFL games. The pair of West Virginia natives replaced the usual Little General spokesman, Mountaineer basketball head coach Bob Huggins in the 30 second spot, with a special guest appearance from Garrett Yurisko, one of our friends over on the Dayonelifestyle & Friends podcast.
Tell ‘em Dante and Doug sent ya. pic.twitter.com/ndUdXbOpj7— the smoking musket (@smokingmusket) October 3, 2021
This afternoon, Jalen Bridges’ ad for Rogers and Mazza’s Pepperoni Rolls dropped, and it’s somehow even better than the Little General spot.
Bridges, along with Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil, is set to make somewhere around six figures in NIL deals this season, according to 247Sports’ Mike Casazza, which should become a real selling point for West Virginia athletics moving forward.
These local access type commercials are the sweet spot of the entire NIL scene. Sure, you’ve got kids signing deals with major businesses for close to seven figures, but these little ads for local businesses are going to be the fan favorites.