The age of college athletes earning money off of their name, image and likeness was ushered in on July 1, when multiple states legalized the practice. The NCAA followed by passing a temporary policy that was similar to those laws. The game's biggest stars have aligned with numerous brands since then, but there hasn't been much of a market for unknown players.
BYU's players are now the exception.
Utah-based Built Brands surprised every walk-on athlete on the football roster with an endorsement deal covering their scholarships on Thursday during a team meeting in the Cougars football complex.
The video shared by BYU on Twitter will give you goosebumps.
"From the beginning of the NIL discussion, my hope was that changes to NCAA rules and regulations would provide a pathway forward for all players to benefit more fully from their name, image, and likeness, especially walk-ons who sacrifice so much to make our program great," said BYU coach Kalani Sitake. "When [Built Brands co-founder] Nick Greer called to tell me that Built was committed to entering into NIL deals which would pay our walk-ons enough money to cover their tuition for the full academic year, I could not hold back my emotions. I love these boys, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude to be partnering with a company that is equally committed to assisting BYU football in building a culture of love and learning while enhancing the experience for all players."
Built Brands is a company based in American Fork, Utah, that specializes in health foods -- particularly protein bars. In addition to the endorsement deals with walk-ons, the company will also sign the rest of the roster innovative multi-year NIL agreements that include branding on practice helmets, experiential events with the company and social media promotions.
"We are excited to partner with BYU and all 123 players on the football team. We are making history together," Greer said. "Cougar players know success happens when every player invests in each other to do what's best for the team. That's what we believe at Built too, and we're excited to support every player of the BYU football team. Games are won when every single player lifts and supports each other with everything they've got. That is how we will all win. That is how we unite as one!"
The NIL agreement with BYU's players is part of a larger sponsorship package between the athletic department and Built Brands.
BYU will open the season Sept. 4 vs. Arizona at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas at 10:30 p.m. ET.