The entire college career of USC quarterback Caleb Williams has taken place during the name, image, and likeness era. As a result, he’s been able to capitalize on his Heisman candidacy and platform at a Power 5 school in one of the nation’s largest media markets.
Williams boasts an NIL value of $2.1 million according to On3 — the third highest in college football. While he told Front Office Sports he isn’t a fan of abstract NIL valuations, the deals he’s signed suggest his ranking, at least, isn’t far off.
Williams has landed partnerships with the likes of Fanatics, Beats by Dre, Athletic Brewing, and Beverly Hills real estate private equity fund Hawkins Way Capital. He even invested in a company, becoming the part-owner of male grooming brand Faculty.
How has he built his illustrious portfolio?
The sophomore said he didn’t want to rush into inking deals. Instead, he’s built a small army of trusted confidants to evaluate and negotiate deals as well as produce content.
Williams wants to create a “genuine relationship.” Those are the types of questions he asks himself: Does he use the brand? Would he like to? Was he interested in the company growing up?
“And then, make sure everyone understood that my commitment to what I like to do — what I love to do — is play football,” he said. If a brand demanded too much of his time, he wouldn’t sign.
“I actually don’t spend as much time [on NIL] as you might think,” Williams said. His team takes care of most of that so he can focus on football, his teammates, and schoolwork.
Williams’ deal with Beats was one of his favorites — not only because of his personal affinity for the brand, but also because he was able to give players and athletic department staff headphones.
Williams said that the NCAA’s previous prohibition on NIL rules was “absurd,” and that he felt it’s created an overall positive change in college sports.
“I spend 13 hours on average at the school,” he said. “I have no problems with it…but we don’t have other time to possibly provide for our family.”
“I think it’s awesome for players to make money for themselves.”