The Wolverine

May 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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48 THE WOLVERINE MAY 2022 BY EJ HOLLAND S ince its inception in 2021, Valiant Management Group has helped put together close to $1 million in name, im- age and likeness deals for active Wolver- ines through marketing partnerships, media appearances, signed memora- bilia, licensed NFTs and more. Valiant's mission is to "represent The University of Michigan athletes in name, image and likeness (NIL) oppor- tunities which are consistent with the university's high standards for ethics and compliance." As NIL continues to take the college football world by storm, it is important for Michigan to have a strong presence, especially on the recruiting trail. Valiant CEO Jared Wangler, a former U-M football player and four-time Aca- demic All-Big Ten honoree, is leading the charge in this realm. "We have relationships with the coaching staff and the administra- tion," Wangler said. "No one has the perfect formula on how NIL should be run, but we have an understanding of what the school's code of ethics is and how they would better appreciate NIL to take place in the space rather than what some other schools are doing out there. "Long term, I think every school's go- ing to have their own third-party, in- house sports agency that isn't hired by the university but is pretty well-con- nected with the university, the players and the coaches." Michigan cannot use NIL to induce recruits to sign with the Wolverines. But it can present prospects with a game plan for how Michigan's global brand can help them individually land lucra- tive deals with various corporations. More and more recruits are looking at NIL as a factor in their decision-making process. And Wangler believes Michigan can offer a near-unmatched opportunity. " W h e n re c r u i ts a re l o o k i n g a t , 'Where am I going to get the best value from NIL?' … Michigan's got the biggest brand in the country. "Why not go to Michigan? You'll ob- viously get more deals than you would if you went to a school that has a smaller market share. It's beneficial for us as a company, and it gives us the luxury of being able to pitch that to brands. We're not really supposed to be using NIL as an inducement for recruiting. "But whenever I get asked questions about NIL from families or people that I know, I'm able to explain to them that if you come to Michigan and if you per- form at a level that makes you market- able, I don't think any other school in the country can beat what you're going to see here in terms of what you'll get from your jersey sales, what you'll get from brand opportunities, what you'll get from the support in the community — it really is a special atmosphere here." When it comes to signees like 2022 five-star cornerback Will Johnson, who inked with Valiant this offseason, Wan- gler said his group is taking a wait-and- see approach. Johnson is an exception due to his high profile. For other freshmen and future sign- ees, NIL deals may have to be put on the back burner. "We approach it a little bit slower than other agencies," Wangler said. "We're starting to see some groups signing a bunch of players as fresh- MICHIGAN RECRUITING How Michigan Can Use NIL On The Recruiting Trail U-M wide receiver commit Semaj Morgan's $26,000 On3 NIL valuation is higher than the 2023 class averages for Penn State, Ohio State, Georgia and Notre Dame — all top five in the On3 recruiting rankings. PHOTO BY EJ HOLLAND 2023 Michigan Commitments List Player Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown (High School) Brooks Bahr DL 6-6 265 Wilmette, Ill. (Loyola Academy) Cole Cabana RB 5-11 170 Dexter, Mich. (Dexter) Benjamin Hall RB 6-0 225 Kennesaw, Ga. (North Cobb) Semaj Morgan WR 5-9 178 West Bloomfield, Mich. (West Bloomfield) Adam Samaha K 6-0 170 Ann Arbor (Huron) Raylen Wilson LB 6-0 205 Tallahassee, Fla. (Lincoln)

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