Last Updated on March 30, 2022
After the landmark $8+ million deal between a NIL collective and a top high school football recruit and Jada Williams’ deal with Spalding as a high school student, it is clear that there is significant NIL value for student-athletes before they step on the field or court for their University.
This trend has continued with a unique partnership between top Michigan Football recruit Will Johnson and award-winning Michigan restaurant The Morrie.
Through partnering with The Morrie, Johnson, the state’s No. 1 football recruit for the class of 2022 per 247 Sports, becomes one of the first early enrollment freshman athletes in Michigan to sign a multi-year NIL deal, and one of the first to partner with a high-profile hospitality brand. In exchange, Johnson will make public appearances at both of The Morrie’s locations, promote the restaurants on his social media profiles and participate in other NIL activities.
Johnson has nearly 19,000 followers on instagram and has recently completed a NIL deal with Positivity Alkaline Water and signed with Valiant Sports Marketing Agency. Already familiar with The Morrie, he was drawn to a NIL deal based on the brand’s image, reputation, menu offerings and continued popularity in the community.
“With the rise of social media and the new college sports landscape, I’m now blessed with the opportunity to market myself and my brand, and further the business goals of my brand partners, as I plan to do with The Morrie,” said Johnson. “Working with one of the hottest restaurant and live music venues in Michigan perfectly matches my vibe and who I am.”
“Since the NIL market opened for businesses, I’ve been seeking a star athlete to align with both AFB Hospitality Group and The Morrie,” said Aaron F. Belen, owner of AFB Hospitality Group (the parent company of the Morrie Restaurant). “Will Johnson, an electrifying athlete and 5-star talent, meets all of our expectations, on and off the field. I welcome Will to our family as a brand ambassador, and speak for our more than 200 associates in saying that we’ll be cheering for him on the field and in the classroom.”
This deal also follows in the footsteps of Walk-Ons Sports Bistreaux’s NIL deals with walk-on student-athletes across the country, but the nature of Johnson’s five star recruiting status brings a new dimension to this type of partnership.
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