AJ Ferrari at the 2021 NCAA Championships (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Today is a landmark day for college athletes, not just in the wrestling world. Starting today, college athletes have the ability to make money off of their name, image, and likeness (NIL), without jeopardizing their eligibility. Even though this goes into effect on July 1st, there are still plenty of i's to be dotted and t's to be crossed, as to how this will happen. Not all states, conferences, and universities will be on the same page and operate under the same rules. Some of the fine print and actual regulations can get kind of boring, so we decided to have some fun and matched up some of college wrestling's biggest stars with potential endorsement ideas. Some of these ideas are well-thought-out and serious. Others make for a good laugh, but maybe could work, too. So enjoy and leave us some of your suggestions in the comments.
AJ Ferrari (Oklahoma State) - The best mom-and-pop Italian restaurant in Stillwater. AJ and his family are very proud of their Italian heritage. What about a series of commercials on local TV with Ferrari being Ferrari? Hilarity ensues.
The possibilities are endless for 665 lb-related shirts and such, as well. We'll look past ads for Ferrari sports cars, that's low-hanging fruit.
Spencer Lee (Iowa) - Pokemon. It was his entrance music; you may as well endorse something you like.
Gable Steveson (Minnesota) - Nike. Nike has a history of building its respective brand around a certain athlete. Michael Jordan took the company from middle-of-the-pack to the clear number one in the athletic footwear and apparel industry. Nike Golf was virtually non-existent before Tiger Woods. Steveson could fit the bill as a dominant, hip, slightly-edgy cornerstone of their wrestling market. Plus, the Olympic exposure doesn't hurt.
Yianni Diakomihalis (Cornell) - Nike. There's already a line of shoes for basketball player Giannis Antetokounmpo, the "Greek Freak." What about a similar line for the wrestling version of the same name?
Trent Hidlay (NC State) - Sheetz. The Twitter handle is Hoagie Hidlay and he pulled one out after his Who's #1 win. Rumor has it that Hidlay is a Sheetz guy. Sheetz vs. WaWa is a heated topic among East Coast sandwich and convenience store connoisseurs.
Michael Kemerer (Iowa) - Advil. It's always kind of a gut punch to see some of your favorite athletes endorsing products geared towards an older generation. Shaquille O'Neal, Brett Favre, and others have gone down this road. Kemerer has said his teammates refer to him as "grandpa." He seems like he has a sense of humor; you may as well lean into the joke.
David Carr (Iowa State) - BMW. It's not really the brand of car that matters, any sort of sports car works. But the dad-joke teller in me can think of a hundred cheesy lines for Carr to say, "This Carr goes 0-60 in so many seconds", "High-performance Carr," etc.
Shane Griffith (Stanford) - Investment Firm. Again, I can picture more cheesy lines. "Hey, I may have saved 11 sports, but I really want to help you save money".
Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State) - Anything. The guy gets it. For the last year, he's put up solid content on social media and built a good following. He'd be a great face of a company.
2021 NCAA Champion Austin O'Connor (Photo/Josh Conklin)
Austin O'Connor (North Carolina) - Cheez-It. Why not? (courtesy of @dysgold_2005)
Evan Wick (Cal Poly) - Yankee Candle. Candles with a really long wick (courtesy of @jagger712)
Daton Fix (Oklahoma State)/Cam Caffey (Michigan State)/Michael Beard (Penn State) - Some sort of hair/beard products.
Micky Phillipi/Jake Wentzel/Nino Bonaccorsi (Pittsburgh) - Primanti Bros. - The famous sandwich shop is closely associated with Pittsburgh and we have three of the Panthers superstars from the greater Pittsburgh area. Sounds like a perfect fit.