Update: The deal is not final yet, which makes sense given it's not July 1 yet. Note the wording in this Atlanta Journal-Constitution story.
Georgia freshman quarterback Brock Vandagriff has yet to take a game snap, but he’s expected to be notified of a name-image-likeness endorsement opportunity with Onward Reserve apparel on July 1.
UGA kicker Jack Podlesny, a hero in the Bulldogs’ 24-21 win over Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl, also is expected to be approached by the popular men’s apparel brand based in Buckhead.
The NIL race will begin, officially, when the clock strikes midnight on July 1. But already the competitors are getting in place at the starting line.
According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Onward Reserve has struck an endorsement deal with Georgia athletes Brock Vandagriff, Matthew Boling, Jack Podlesney, Trent Phillips, and Connor Tate. Vandagriff and Boling are the top two names there -- Vandagriff is a 5-star quarterback that will be a freshman this fall, and Boling is a nationally-renowed sprinter. Podlesney is a kicker for the Bulldogs, while Phillips is on the golf team and Tate plays baseball.
Onward Reserve is a men's apparel brand launched by Georgia graduate TJ Callaway, popular in SEC and Southern circles. Kirby Smart, Trevor Lawrence and Jake Fromm have all been spotted in Onward Reserve gear, and so Callaway is leveraging the new rules to market to dudes of a certain demographic.
“This is a no-brainer,” Callaway told the publication.
The deal was brokered by Drew Butler, a former Georgia punter who now heads the collegiate division of Icon Source, a firm that brokers deals between brands and athletes.
No dollar amounts were revealed, but Callaway said they are "low cost."
Vandagriff and company will wear Onward Reserve gear on social media, in Onward Reserve advertisements and catalogues, and may even be asked to appear in stores on game days.
The clothing company also has licenses with Florida State, Clemson and others, so if this deal works well for both sides -- and there's no reason to believe it won't -- we could see Tigers and/or Seminoles paid to wear Onward Reserve soon.
Georgia signed its NIL bill into law on May 6, placing the Peachtree State among the handful of states releasing their college athletes into the new era as soon as the calendar turns to July.
While there are assuredly countless number of deals in place or getting in place as you read this, as far as I know this is the first NIL deal to be publicly announced. It won't be the last.
“As brands become more comfortable, the volume of deals at the hyper local and regionally level will be tremendous,” Butler told the ABC.