Top NCAA Athletes-Turned Influencers

The National Collegiate Athletic Association ruled on July 1, 2021, that student-athletes could finally make money off their name, image, and likeness. This rule has been a matter of controversy for years, but finally, student-athletes can leverage brand partnerships and become influencers!

While the Cavinder twins made the first brand deal in collegiate NIL history with Boost Mobile, smaller brands and micro-influencers are also finding success! Local ‘college-town stores and D2C clothing brands are also a top hit among these influencers, seeing engagement rates averaging around 15% for this entire list!

We found these top student-athletes with incredible potential! If you’d like to learn more about the billion-dollar industry this ruling has just created, keep reading!

1. Paris Johnson Jr (@parisjohnsonjr)

  • Paris Johnson Jr. is an Offensive tackle at Ohio State University. Since the NCAA ruling passed, Johnson has already partnered with Culture Kings and is on Cameo. Johnson’s posts regularly attract over 7% engagement, some even reaching as high as 30%.

2. Haley Cavinder (@haleycavinder)

  • One part of the Cavinder Twins TikTok page (with over 3M Followers), Haley Cavinder is on the Fresno State Women’s Basketball Team. Cavinder’s Instagram page has grown by over 37% in the last 90 days, with an engagement rate averaging 30%. Cavinder is a GoPuff partner, and her first two influencer deals were with Six Star Nutrition and Boost Mobile. Both of these partnerships brought in more than 13% engagement rates each.

3. Hanna Cavinder (@hanna.cavinder)

  • Haley’s counterpart and teammate Hanna Cavinder has just as bustling a following as her twin. Hanna landed the same partnerships with Six Star Nutrition and Boost Mobile as her sister, driving incredible engagement rates! Peaking at 30% engagement, Cavinder’s partnerships have only just begun.

4. Chet Holmgren (@chet_holmgren)

  • Center for Gonzaga’s Men’s Basketball team, Chet Holmgren has over 320k followers on Instagram, showing a consistent growth rate and activity. Holmgren is only a freshman but will undoubtedly be a student-athlete influencer to watch- the basketball player is featured by Gatorade and Playmaker HQ on social media and named MVP at the FIBA U19 world cup.

5. Sean Clifford (@seancliff14)

  • Quarterback for Penn State, Sean Clifford is only beginning to leverage his platform for influencer marketing, announcing his first partnership on August 2nd. Partnering with a Penn State student store, Clifford’s influence shows the potential of partnering with local and small businesses.

6. Olivia Dunne (@livvydunne)

  • Olivia Dunne is a gymnast for Louisiana State University with over 1M Instagram followers and over 4M TikTok followers. Despite this large following, Dunne’s engagement rate is incredibly high despite this large following, at 28% on Instagram and 23% on Twitter.

7. Spencer Rattler (@spencer_rattler)

  • The quarterback at the University of Oklahoma, Spencer Rattler has already partnered with several brands since the NIL passing. Vowing to donate a part of any earnings he receives to help underserved people and communities, Rattler has spread awareness of college athletes’ opportunities with NIL. Some partnerships so far include clothing and shoe stores such as Retailboyz and Chesler Customs.

8. Master Teague III (@masterteague)

  • A running back for Ohio State, Master Teague has recently created a Cameo since the NIL ruling. Teague has an over 8% growth rate and a nearly 15% engagement rate.

9. Masai Russell (@masai_russell)

  • With over 150k, The University of Kentucky Track and Field star’s platform is multiplying. Masai Russell’s Instagram account has a current growth rate of over 16%, featuring new brand partnerships with clothing brands like Bo and Tee. This specific brand partnership (shown below) drew in an engagement rate of over 13%.

10. Chris Olave (@chrisolave_)

  • Wide receiver for Ohio State, Chris Olave has over 100k followers and an 18% engagement rate. Olave has already partnered with Raising Cane’s Chicken as a part of their #CaniacAmbassador program.

11. Breanna Beal (@breabeal)

  • Breanna Beal is one of the highest-followed players on the University of South Carolina’s Women’s Basketball team. Beal has over __ IG followers and draws a 16%+ engagement rate per post. Her Twitter engagement is just as impressive, with 12% among 10k followers. Beal is on Cameo and Youtube, featuring workout videos and tons of other content.

12. Sam Howell (@sam7howell)

  • University of North Carolina Quarterback Sam Howell has amassed over 60k followers in his two years at UNC. Howell has an engagement rate of 23% and is growing by 13%- look for these numbers to continue spiking as Howell participates in brand partnerships. As his first partnership, Howell is working with the non-profit organization Table and combined this partnership with North Carolina fast-food favorite Bojangles for long-term partnerships.

13. Collin Gillespie (@collin105)

  • Men’s basketball player for Villanova University, Collin Gillespie came out with custom-designed merchandise with The Player’s Trunk just days after the NIL rule passed. Gillespie has since been named a Barstool Athlete and is a brand ambassador for PSD Underwear. The basketball player’s profile has kept a steady 10% growth rate in recent months.

14. Ziyah Holman (@ziyahleigh__)

  • Ziyah Holman is a University of Michigan and Team USA athlete, running track and field. Holman most recently partnered with Play Booked, a specific NIL company for athletes. With her engagement rate hovering around 10%, Holman’s content health shows engagements as high as 7k per post.

15. Derek Stingley Jr. (@derek_stingley)

  • Louisiana State University Cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. has already partnered with multiple brands since the NIL possibility became a reality. Stingley is another Raising Cane’s #CaniacAmbassador, his post representing the brand drawing in an engagement rate of 14%.

16. Bryce Young (@bryceyoung)

  • A Sophomore at the University of Alabama, Bryce Young is a standout quarterback with significant social media influence. Young has already partnered with CashApp on Twitter, promising future partnerships with the brand. Snowballing on Instagram and Twitter, this growth will likely increase with the coming 2021 football season.

17. Alana Walker (@alanawalker14)

  • Though graduated Northwestern, Alana Walker is playing one last season of eligibility at the University of Virginia’s Women’s Volleyball team. Walker has already established a Cameo page and has been named a Barstool Athlete. Walker most recently partnered with Lollapalooza Music Festival, attending and featuring the festival on her Insta. As her page continues to grow at a rate of 14%, watch for Walker partnering with more brands/events!

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