TJ Callaway is always tickled when sees college athletes at the University of Georgia sporting Onward Reserve, a men’s apparel brand he launched 10 years ago.
A UGA alum and diehard Bulldogs fan, Callaway is now poised to connect with college athletes in a way he couldn’t have fathomed a decade ago: paying them to endorse his products. Onward Reserve will offer a handful of standout UGA athletes after midnight on July 1 — the date Georgia law says athletes can officially cash in on their name, image and likeness.
“This is a no-brainer,” Callaway told Atlanta Business Chronicle.
Small companies, like Onward Reserve, can now capitalize on the large followings of student athletes. Callaway will send opportunities next month to UGA athletes: track and field star Matthew Boling, quarterback Brock Vandagriff, placekicker Jack Podlesney, golfer Trent Phillips and baseball player Connor Tate.
Onward Reserve is slated to be the first Georgia-based business to sign college athletes to endorsement deals.
The deal was facilitated through Drew Butler’s company, Icon Source.
“It’s a very natural fit,” said Butler. “These student athletes shop in their stores and use their e-commerce website and speak authentically to what Onward Reserve represents.”
And, as to the question I’m sure you’re asking,
Callaway declined to divulge the value of potential contracts with UGA athletes. He did say they are “low cost.”
The Thomasville, Ga. native says social media analytics will help gauge his return on investment. He’s also considering whether to ask athletes for in-store appearances on gamedays. Maybe he’ll put them in seasonal Onward Reserve catalogs.
Who knew that appealing to preppie chic would be the beginning of the end of college football as we know it?
UPDATE: The ABC may have jumped the gun a wee bit. Here’s more from Marc Weiszer.
Former Prince Avenue Christian quarterback Brock Vandagriff and former Oconee County High baseball player Connor Tate were among names the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported Wednesday the company is eyeing.
TJ Callaway, the founder and CEO of Onward Reserve, stressed to the Athens Banner-Herald that contracts have not been written yet but he did confirm interest in working with Vandagriff, Tate, star track sprinter Matthew Boling, kicker Jack Podlesny and first-team All-SEC golfer Trent Phillips.
“What’s actually going on is we’re preparing to present contracts to really a lot of different people including the ones that were mentioned but there’s a good many more,” said Callaway, a 2007 UGA graduate.“We can’t even have any conversations with those guys until July 1. We’re planning on putting contracts out for a proposal on July 1. There’s no certainty that we will work necessarily with them but we certainly have an interest in doing so should they be interested.”
Vandagriff’s dad has the money quote:
Greg Vandagriff likes that college athletes can take advantage of the new rules, but wants his son to approach it with “moderation. Nobody wants to pimp my ride so to speak, meaning you’re just going to sell out to the almighty dollar.” He said Brock likes hunting so “if there’s some hunting company that wants to give him a bunch of stuff I’m sure he’d be more than excited.”