Oklahoma Sooners vs Kansas State Wildcats

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley picked up another big commitment on Saturday in five-star quarterback Caleb Williams of Washington, D.C. 

IAN MAULE/Tulsa World file

Quarterback Caleb Williams could profit greatly by name, image and likeness (NIL) elements recently approved by the NCAA Board of Governors.

Williams, a five-star football recruit from Washington D.C. who committed to Oklahoma on Saturday night, has former quarterbacks like Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts to thank.

Imagine Mayfield’s endorsement deals if someone had sponsored the charismatic quarterback. What if Murray was able to bank off his OU success in both football and baseball? Hurts could have made plenty from his Instagram account if there was a business logo at the end of 90-second workout clips that he posted following games.

Williams won’t be in Norman for another year at a minimum, but he already is planning his future. During a recent SI.com blog, he mentioned he has spent time training as well as building his own brand.

“Trying to figure out my own symbol and things like that to trademark me later in the process, through college years and years after,” he wrote, adding, “over the past week or so, we’ve been talking on investing and building my own brand with things that can help me in the near future.”

Why did Williams chose OU over finalists LSU and Maryland?

“With their past and with the past three quarterbacks … I honestly felt like (OU) was the best place for me overall with what coach (Lincoln) Riley has been able to do. I just want to learn and hopefully get to the next level,” Williams said during a CBS HQ streaming broadcast.

OU legend Adrian Peterson made a cameo at the end of Williams’ highlight video that announced the decision.

Said Peterson: “What’s up, Caleb? It’s all about making good choices. Welcome to the family and I wish you nothing but the best. Boomer Sooner.”

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Williams passed for 1,770 yards and 19 touchdowns and rushed for 838 yards and 18 TDs during his junior season at Gonzaga College High School

Riley has pressed hard on Williams’ recruitment. On Friday, he was asked how much he now sees recruits developing their brand before they get on campus.

“A lot of (the branding) is already happening,” Riley said. “You see with recruits’ social media followings, things that they do, videos, pictures, interviews. I think that’s started to progress the last several years and probably will even more.

“Yeah, it’s definitely going to have an impact. I don’t know if we all can even understand the scope of how big a change that is, from the financial literacy — there’s just so many levels to it, man. It’s almost a little overwhelming, honestly, when you think about it. But I see it as a positive thing.”

Andrew Carter and Ben Walnick are co-founders of Let It Fly Media. The former FOX23 journalists created the company that, according to its website, creates “a plan that encompasses your specific, long-term goals that can be achieved with the evolution of a successful brand.”

The Kansas City-based business works with professional sports leagues like Major League Soccer and the PGA of America.

Carter was asked to pretend to sell his business to a five-star high school quarterback. What would be the selling points?

“It would probably be a two-fold approach,” he said. “One would be the easy content and creation side and help him market himself and make money off their name.

“But we also would have some sort of consulting side and business management side. If you’re going to get into this arena and make money off your name and branded content, you have to realize that whoever you are representing, people are going to associate you with that brand.

“The easy message for me is that their brand is worth something and it’s really easy to try to capitalize off that, especially in a state like Oklahoma when one of the most important people in athletics is the starting quarterback at OU.”

Carter said filming sponsored commercial spots would be part of the deal, as well as creating hype videos for their own brand that other sponsors could attach themselves to, similar to what Hurts could have gained with his workout videos after OU games.

“I think that’s the easiest and best option. It’s also the safest to start these players,” said Carter, who added that there will be decisions on if they can be represented by business managers.

“If they just do their normal thing that they are doing in their element and they’re willing to have a camera there and they want to put some content out and add a logo to it, there’s going to be some money attached to that. It will be up to the brands to figure out how much money it’s worth for them to go on a player’s Instagram, put their logo up and see that it gets 500,000 hits.”

OU has done a good job showing off its recruits. During last December’s signing day, each player received his own brand developed by the football recruiting staff.

“We’ve been one of the most-viewed, most-talked about signing day presentations of any program in the country,” Riley said. “That’s one of the advantages that you get at Oklahoma is an opportunity to do it on the big stage, and a chance that, you come here, you do it right on the field, you do it right off the field and you do have a chance to build a brand for yourself.

“Now, in the past, that’s really only benefited players once they’re playing. Now it’s going to start benefiting players even earlier.”


Eric Bailey

918-581-8391

eric.bailey@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @ericbaileyTW

Sports Writer

Eric covers the University of Oklahoma football and men’s basketball teams. A Haskell Indian Nations University graduate, he has been a member of the Tulsa World sports staff for 12 years. Phone: 918-581-8391