CGS 2022: Three Stories About Taking Risks as a Scout

The week spent by our 20 CGSU interns was remarkable in many ways, but one was was in the stories they got to hear. One theme was taking risks. All who shared their stories had left nothing to chance, including taking risks that could backfire on them in order to get the job.

Among our speakers were former Browns and 49ers scout Bob Morris (now with the USFL), former Chiefs scout John Bonaventura (now with Winnipeg in the CFL) and Marc Lillibridge (who coaches and runs a training facility in St. Louis). Here are a few stories from the week.

  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers Western Regional Scout John Bonaventura said he was teaching at a middle school and helping out wherever he could when he got an opportunity to work with a member of the Chiefs scouting staff at a combine in California. After helping out over several days and proving himself, he was offered a job with the team — if he could do organizational and administrative tasks to include extensive work with Power Point. When he was asked specifically if he had experience with the program, he made it clear: “Yeah, I know Power Point.” He then drove directly back to his high school job, found the audio/visual guy, and told him, “I need a favor. You got a week to teach me Power Point.” It must have worked because he was hired and spent four-and-a-half years with the Chiefs.
  • Former NFL linebacker and agent Marc Lillibridge spent six years with the Packers and Chiefs, but it almost didn’t happen. He was given a chance to interview with the Packers, and though he had a lucrative offer to join a media franchise and head its draft coverage, the allure of working for Green Bay was strong. After meeting with team officials and making a good impression, he was offered the job — at about half of what he would have made providing draft content. “Let me go outside and talk to my wife about it,” he said, but he’d already made up his mind he was going to take it (he didn’t even call his wife).
  • Bob Morris was a lifelong defensive backs coach when he was approached to join the Cleveland Browns under new head coach Butch Davis in the Spring of 2002. Had he opted to play it safe and stay on the coaching side, he might have wound up out of the game, but instead, he decided to give it a try. It led to two decades in NFL scouting (eight with the Browns and almost 12 with the 49ers) as well as jobs in the AAF, XFL and, now, the USFL.

There’s so much more to say about our inaugural CGSU intern class, and we say plenty in this week’s Friday Wrap, which comes out later today. You can register for it here.

CGS 2022: Our Daily Scouting Intern Schedule

Starting Saturday, 21 aspiring NFL scouts will join us in Fort Worth for the 2022 College Gridiron Showcase. Here’s a rundown of what they can expect.

SATURDAY: This is our ‘orientation’ day, and the day we hope to set the tone for the weekend and make clear our expectations for the next three days. We’ll primarily get ready for what’s ahead.

CGSU scout workshop orientation (4-5 p.m., Magnolia V room of the Fort Worth Sheraton): CGS co-Founder Jose Jefferson, CGS Director of Scouting and Personnel Mike Rittelman and myself will introduce the week and talk about expectations.

SUNDAY: It’s showtime. Sunday is the biggest day for interns given that it’s the main interview day for NFL scouts, and many of our previous interns have earned the respect of NFL personnel with their work on Sunday alone.

  • CGSU breakfast (6:30-7:30 a.m. at a restaurant TBA), followed by a scouting meeting (7:30-8 a.m., Magnolia VI of the Sheraton): We will discuss the Marshals workout and roles for interns.
  • Marshals scrimmage (9-10:30 a.m.) at Farrington Field: We’ll ferry interns to the field, where they’ll assist with practices and solicit opinions from scouts on which players deserve to move up to the Desperadoes roster.
  • CGSU scouting seminar (11 a.m.-noon, Oak I-III): CFL scout John Bonaventura, former NFL scout and agent Marc Lillibridge and former Giants scout Chris Watts will  participate in a panel discussion with the interns moderated by myself.
  • CGSU lunch (noon-1 p.m., Magnolia I-IV) and scouting workshop meeting (noon to 12:30 p.m., Oak I-III): Mike Rittelman will join us to make assignments and break down scout-player interviews and how interns will assist in bringing players to the interview room. We’ll also take volunteers to help with the NFL measurements sessions.
  • Player interviews (1-9 p.m., Magnolia I-IV): Interns will work with NFL teams to facilitate interviews.
  • NFL measurements (offense and defense, 9-10:30 p.m., offense in Magnolia V, defense in Magnolia VI): Once again, interns will assist in arm and hand measurements.
  • CGSU scouting debrief (10:30-11 p.m., Oak I-III): We’ll review Sunday and assign roles for Monday’s weigh-ins).

MONDAY: This is another big day and it starts early with weigh-ins, another key part of the weekend, then wraps up with another night of education.

  • CGSU breakfast and meeting (6:15-7 a.m., Oak I-III of the Sheraton), followed by Desperadoes (7:30-9 a.m., Magnolia I-IV of the Sheraton) and Wrangers (9:15-10:45 a.m., Magnolia I-IV) weigh-ins: After a brief meeting, interns will help as we hand out roster sheets to scouts, align players alphabetically, contact and locate players who are late arriving, and call out heights and weights.
  • Desperadoes (12:15-2 p.m.) and Wranglers (2:15-4 p.m.) practices at Farrington Field: We’ll ferry interns to the field, where they’ll assist with practices.
  • CGSU scouting meeting (9:30-10 p.m., Magnolia V of the Sheraton): We’ll have one or two active NFL scouts who’ll discuss how they got their jobs, what they look for in interns and potential interviewees, and what they like best about being NFL evaluators.

TUESDAY: We say goodbye to our team and convene one last time.

  • CGSU breakfast, followed by scouting meeting (6-7:30 a.m. breakfast at a nearby restaurant, followed by meeting 7-9 a.m. at Oak I-III): We’ll tally up the winners of the week, present awards, discuss what we did right and what we did wrong, and say goodbye to everyone.

If you’re one of our 21 interns, I look forward to meeting and working with you this weekend. If not, please consider applying to join us in 2023.

We’ll talk more about the CGS and our scouting intern program in our Friday Wrap. Register for it here.

How To Get An Interview with an NFL Team: Six Points

We’re almost at January, and if you aspire to be an NFL scout someday, it’s an invaluable month given the multiple opportunities to get out and make contacts among NFL scouts. Here’s what I’ll be telling the interns at the College Gridiron Showcase next month who are dying to be the next generation of NFL evaluators.

Make sure you have a business card: I know business cards are so 80s, but the fact is, you can impart a lot of info in a highly mobile format if you’ve got ’em. Don’t be ashamed of using both sides if you need to. Also don’t be ashamed of making your own if aren’t with a school or organization right now.

Set a goal of 50 business cards collected in the first quarter of 2022: This could just as easily be contacts, i.e., people who work in your field whose cell and email you’ve gathered somehow, hopefully by standing in front of them and spending at least a few seconds in conversation.

Update your resume, then email it to yourself: If someone asks for your resume, you don’t want to delay. If you have it in your inbox on your phone, you don’t have to worry about forgetting to send it.

Reach out to every person whose contact you get: This has to be prompt. If you meet someone at the Senior Bowl, for example, make sure you reach out to them with a brief text or email by the middle of February. You want them to remember who the message is coming from. Even after 20 years in the business, I meet dozens of people in January as I travel from game to game, and I can’t always remember the faces of the people whose numbers and emails I collect. Make sure you don’t give anyone a chance to forget who you are.

Realize the job search is already under way: Every April, I get questions from some of my friends saying, should I start sending out my resume now? By April, most teams have already decided who they are going to interview. When we had NFL scouting directors on earlier this month, and they were asked when they started looking at possible hires, most of them said they never stop. I realize July and August are bad times to be sending out your resume, but now, in late December, isn’t a bad time.

Don’t be a pest: I know this is a fine line, and I know you have to be persistent, but if you are constantly bombing people with your info, you’re going to make them pretty numb to your constant entreaties. Map out a schedule of when you send, when you plan to follow up and how many times, and when enough is enough.

Good luck! I hope everyone who reads this winds up in the league, and I look forward to working with you. For more tips and information of this sort, make sure to check our our weekly newsletter, the Friday Wrap. You can register for it here.

Touching Down on the NFL Draft Process: Six Points for Prospects

This time of year, I get a handful of members of the current NFL Draft Class who are referred to me, and they have questions about the entire process. It’s for this reason that I wrote my first book, but most want bullet points.

Well, today, I have six. If you or your son have questions about the process, maybe the following will help.

  • Regarding NFL Combine selection, the short story is, NFS (National Football Scouting) conducts a player-by-player vote of about 1,000-2,000 players, and the top 350-odd players by vote get an invite. They are disproportionately from FBS, obviously. If a player has a record-setting bowl game, it might tilt things in his way a bit. However, for the most part, the odds of getting an invite are equal parts raw athleticism, college production, and measurables. For example, if you are a four-year 1,000-yard receiver at an FBS school, but you’re 5-8/180/4.6, the odds will be against you. To a great degree, the NFL Draft is a beauty pageant. For the most part, NFL teams are looking for difference-makers, not good football players. They are seeking freakish athletic talents they can craft into stars (perhaps). This is why so many good college football players without eye-popping athletic skills go undrafted.
  • As far as all-star play, the organizers of these bowls select the players, though agents can have a major impact on who gets invited. After the Senior Bowl and, to some degree, the Shrine Bowl, the remaining games are excellent platforms which will be populated largely by fringe draft prospects who will be late-rounders or UDFAs (or who won’t go to camps). As far as how these games are populated, there is a “domino” process among the games whereby a player at the top game (SR) declines an invitation, and that player is replaced by a lower game, and that continues on down the line. In my opinion, there is a limited difference between the first player drafted in the fourth round and most UDFAs, and a good all-star game can move a player up in that Day 3 crop. At the same time, an all-star game won’t get a player from the seventh to the first round. No way, no how.
  • When it comes to selecting an agent, the most important factor should be (a) a player’s personal relationship with the agent and (b) the agent’s experience level. During the vetting process, players should ask in-depth questions about how the agent has handled players, when he was fired and why, how he can make a difference for the player, what the agent’s plan is for the next four months, etc. The player should ask if he’s ever represented anyone like himself and how that player turned out. The player should ask the agent why he wants to represent him. Money should be a low-level consideration, though if a player asks his agent to cover training, etc., he should pay three percent. Fee cuts are for first-rounders. Also, Day 3 prospects (especially) should forget about marketing. They need someone who will clear away all obstacles for them to make a 53-man roster.
  • When choosing a trainer, players should make sure they choose a place that cares about them and that will comprehensively train them for speed, but also drills.
  • The post-pro day period will be the longest time of a draft prospect’s life. Players should discuss the post-draft plan with their agents as part of your selection process.
  • I know draft prospects are desperate to hear what scouts think about them, and I know it’s hard to resist the pull of the Internet, but a player only knows how all 32 teams feel about him if he goes undrafted. If a player is drafted, he really only knows how the team that drafted him thinks. Unless you continually see your name in first-round mock drafts, it’s best to presume that you are somewhere in that Day 3 mix, and every day you train, you’re trying to move up that list just a little bit. 

Still have questions? Sign up for our Friday Wrap newsletter, in which we talk about all things NFL draft and the business of the game each week. Merry Christmas!

Ask the Scout: Blake Beddingfield on the Changing NFL Game (and its Impact on the Draft)

With the ’22 NFL Draft about four months aways, we asked former Titans Director of College Scouting Blake Beddingfield to discuss how NFL teams will use the draft to address the evolving NFL style of play. Friday, Blake will address the strengths and weaknesses, position by position, of the ’22 class in our Friday Wrap. You can register for it here.

Substitution packages — dime and nickel sets, along with packages aimed at defending certain offensive schemes or personnel — are the new trend in NFL defensive football. Reducing substitutions is one reason so many teams (especially on the college level) are playing “tempo” offenses that are designed to get to the snap quickly.

This new philosophy has changed the way NFL teams build their rosters and attack the draft board.

With the emergence of the flex, or “move,” tight end, as well as bigger wide receivers playing in the slot, defenses are countering with sub-package groups. Not long ago, offensive-minded teams had a traditional slot receiver that was effective on short-to-intermediate routes and a “Y” tight end that also worked the middle of the field and the short areas outside the numbers. That’s not the case anymore with slot receivers now able to stretch the middle of the field vertically and tight ends that can work the seams and corners of a defense’s coverage.

With these offensive changes, defenses have had to match. This is why nickel linebackers have become so valuable, and why we’ve moved from mammoth linebackers designed to stop downhill rushers to lighter players who are almost hybrid safeties. Finding this combination has become a draft day priority for most teams.  

Outside of pass rushers, always highly valued on draft day, safety has seen an emergence. This is the group that can help equalize those growing offensive trends.  This group has size, length, man cover ability and quality players that can start immediately for teams. Teams seeking these key new players are in luck in 2022 as the safety group will have quality players into the early part of Day 3.  

For all other positional needs, it’s important to understand how NFL coaching and front office staffs have changed. But first, it’s important to note that the toughest positions to fill in free agency are franchise quarterbacks, left tackle and pass rusher. If you need those positions, you either have to pay a premium on draft day or hope to be able to develop Day 2 and 3 prospects. That’s where the problem lies.

There was a time when the league was geared toward developing players drafted in the middle and later rounds of the draft. However, how much of that development is actually happening in the NFL today? I trace this to today’s hiring practices when you look at assistant coaches, i.e., everyone below the coordinator level.

Are the assistant coaches being hired capable of teaching and developing players at their position? Sometimes, but not always. Some coaches are hired because of their ability to scheme and work on Xs and Os, but long gone are the assistant coaches that had years working on the high school and college levels, where they had to learn how to teach.

Today’s generation of assistant coaches are more often play callers first and “coaches” second. They’re seen as the farm team for tomorrow’s coordinators and head coaches. As the “burn rate” for head coaches gets more intense and head coaches become expendable, the need for new candidates is substantial. It becomes less about who you have developed or coached with success, and more about who you worked for and the success the team has had.

Don’t forget to check out Blake’s take on the strengths and weaknesses of the ’22 draft class in this week’s Friday Wrap (register here). Make sure to keep up with Blake’s writings, radio appearances and other engagements by following him on Twitter.

Ask the Scouts: Four Zooms, Four Evaluators, Four Takeaways

If you’re like me, you love talking football with people who are fully engaged and highly evolved students of the game, and that’s why this was an incredibly enriching (and even fun) week for me as we welcomed four guests to Zoom sessions Tuesday, Wednesday (two) and Thursday.

Here are the guests who joined 30-40 aspiring scouts and football professionals and what I learned from each.

Ethan Waugh, Vice President of Player Personnel, 49ers: From Ethan, I took away that the 49ers are very analytical and measured in their evaluation of scouting assistant candidates. You better know players and evaluation if you come in for an interview. I was also shocked to learn that everyone who comes in to interview for a scouting job takes the Wonderlic, the same exam scouts have administered to prospects for decades. It is clear to me that the Niners are looking for lifers, and focus on true evaluators, not fact-gatherers, as so many modern teams have come to seek.

Mike Sholiton, Director of College Scouting, Vikings: From Mike, I learned that the Vikings are looking for someone who will be a seamless member of the team. Mike related a story about Scott Studwell, who once ran the draft for the team. When he’d solicit opinions from scouts on a player, if he disagreed with their assessment, he would never challenge or belittle them. Instead, he’d allow that the scout might have a different opinion, but that didn’t make him wrong. To be a Vikings scout, you must be poised, professional and able to handle adversity smoothly, never losing sight of your respect for your fellow scouts. I don’t know all of Minnesota’s scouts, but my sense is that the Vikings have a tight-knit group.

Kevin Kelly, Director of College Scouting, Chargers: From Kevin, I got the impression that Los Angeles is looking for competitors. He wants scouts who are willing to stay after practice to get the extra interview from a coach, or watch the extra game film, or seek out one more doctor’s opinion on a player’s injury before making a final evaluation. Like the Vikings, the Chargers aren’t looking for a polished evaluator, per se. They’re looking for someone with the heart of a champion who has a burning passion to win and to get things right. And in case you didn’t think Kevin was giving, he gave out his email address — and cell number — when he got done.

Brian Woods, President of Football Operations, USFL: Though Brian isn’t a scout, he is no less engaged in team-building or, in his case, league-building. I went into the session believing the USFL would just be The Spring League 2.0, a bigger and better version of Brian’s previous project. What I learned was that he has much bigger plans for the league, and while it won’t compete with the NFL, obviously, it will compete with college teams, especially G5 teams. The USFL will grow to become a contender for players who enter the transfer portal and others who are at least three years removed from high school graduation. The USFL will not be the place for six- and seven-year veterans looking to cash a few last checks before cycling out of pro football.

If you saw any of our numerous tweets about this week and you considered joining us, but didn’t, you missed out. Everyone who participated got relevant, critical insights on how to get a job in the game. If we do this again next year, I hope you’ll give us a shot. In the meantime, make sure to register for our Friday Wrap for more information on how to get into the game.


Ask The Scouts: 12 Questions for the NFL Scouting Director Zooms

Next week, as you might have seen, we will host three nights of NFL scouting directors discussing their hiring policies and philosophies as it relates to scouting interns and assistants. In other words, this will be How to Get a Job in NFL Scouting 101 with not one, not two, but three (!!!) experts. I’ve spoken on this topic before, but obviously, that’s not nearly the same as bringing in the men who actually do the hiring to talk about how they fill open positions.

You can register by becoming a #NextWave ITL subscriber (a discounted $75 student rate for aspiring NFL evaluators) here. Got questions? Email me at nstratton at insidetheleague dot com. Once you get registered, we’ll send you all the relevant links, etc. We’ll reveal the names of our three directors and their teams, times of the Zoom sessions, and provide Zoom links on Monday.

So what are the questions they will address? I’ve given them a lot of latitude on how they want to approach these sessions, but these would be some of the questions that I would expect will be answered.

  • When is the best time to submit a resume?
  • How do I know about openings?
  • How do I submit my resume?
  • How important is it to have a developed eye for NFL talent? Will I be evaluated on this?
  • How long are your internships? How long do scouting assistants typically work for your team?
  • Do you pay scouting interns? If so, how much?
  • What if I haven’t worked for a school’s personnel department?
  • Is a math/science/finance-based degree better than a sport management degree?
  • Should I include ALL my work experience, or just football-related experience, on my resume?
  • Do you hire every year?
  • What do your interns and scouting assistants typically do?
  • Where have most of them come from?

If you follow our Scouting Changes Grid, you already have an idea of who got hired this cycle, and if you study our Know Your Scouts series, you already know all about the people who are getting, and keeping, jobs in NFL scouting these days. If you haven’t, well, that’s one more reason to become a #NextWave subscriber.

As an added bonus, USFL CEO Brian Woods will join us on Zoom Wednesday, as well. Though his focus will be on addressing agents’ questions about roster population, etc., he might have a minute to talk about how the league will fill internship roles. If you read this blog regularly, you know how strongly I feel about building your network and having relevant work experience, and leagues like the USFL (and, soon, the XFL) offer golden opportunities for that. And these days, you don’t even have to live in a certain place to sharpen your skill set and be a key part of an organization.

We’ll be talking more about next week’s sessions in today’s Friday Wrap, which comes out at 7:30 p.m. ET. If you haven’t already, register for it here.

’21 Agent Class Wellness Check: Five Things You Should Know by Thanksgiving

Having worked with members of the ’21 agent class for the past several months, I hear their concerns and their questions every day. With the sub-FBS seasons over for teams not in the playoffs, and nearly over for about half of FBS teams, there are big decisions that are starting to be made.

Bottom line, there are certain things you need to know by Thanksgiving Day if you’re a certified contract advisor. Here’s what I came up with.

Know who you hope to sign: If you’re a newly certified agent, you are getting contacted daily by two groups. They are, people who hope to be agents some day and want you to hire them as interns, and players from previous draft classes hoping you’ll sign and train them to pursue their long shot NFL dreams. Well, we’re just getting started. As more and more players’ seasons end, they will start calling, too. I hope you’re recruiting, and not just waiting for something to float in over the transom. Sometimes those signings work out, but by and large, someone recruiting you is not being considered by NFL scouts.

Know who you can’t sign: Every year, there are agents who come into the business solely because a young man, or members of his family, promised that new agent that the player would sign with him or her upon certification by the NFLPA. For these people, I like to tell ‘the story of the high school girlfriend.’ I’m 52. So are Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Lopez and Catherine Zeta-Jones, so all of them were in high school when I was. Now, let’s say I went to high school with one of them, and maybe I was even lucky enough to date one of them (I know, in my dreams, but let me tell the story). We might have expressed our love for each other, and maybe even made long-term plans, discussed kids, etc. Well, once those girls left Hometown U.S.A. and met the Brad Pitts, George Clooneys and Dwayne Johnsons of the world, suddenly, they don’t remember me anymore. That happens every year to new agents once the players they coached in Pop Warner or knew from the old neighborhood start to get recruited by the big firms. If this describes you, you better have a Plan B.

Know who the real prospects are: For most new agents without a network of NFL scouting contacts, figuring out which players have NFL talent takes real guesswork. Most aspiring NFL players have a well-rehearsed story explaining why they have been overlooked by draft pundits and scouts alike, and they can be pretty convincing. Have I mentioned that former NFL executive Blake Beddingfield writes scouting reports on any college player at any level for just $100+tax? We can turn a report in 2-3 days, most times sooner. Contact us for details.

Know about what you can spend: I would estimate that for every 100 members of a draft class signed to a 90-man roster post-draft (either drafted or signed as a UDFA), one makes it through the draft process costing his agent $1,000 or less. If about 600 rookies enter the league as draft picks or UDFAs, you’re talking about 5-7 players. For all the others, you’re looking at $5,000-$10,000 per player (again, we’re talking about actual prospects, not backup punters from NAIA schools). We discussed this extensively on our Zoom session last week. If you’re a new agent, I hope you caught it. Greg Linton (HOF Player Representatives) and Alex Campbell (Ajax Sports Agency) were magnificent.

Know, in minute detail, the all-star landscape: There are eight all-star games this draft cycle, more than any since ITL started in 2002. We had seven of the games’ directors on our Zoom last week, and they explained dates, schedules, costs (where applicable), invitation progress, roster sizes and scarcities, how to contact them and plenty of other details. I can’t describe what kind of opportunity these games are, especially if your client comes from a sub-FBS school or was only a one-year starter.

Whether or not you’re part of the football business community, and whether or not you’re part of the ITL family, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving spent with family and friends. One of God’s greatest gifts is our loved ones. Have a blessed day, and don’t forget to sign up for our Friday Wrap if you haven’t already. 


ITL Zoom Week: Three Sessions, Three Speakers, Plenty of Fire

I think my genius — and I use that term very loosely — is that I’ve been able to befriend people who are way smarter than I am. From there, I’ve been able to talk some of them into joining me on Zoom to share their wisdom.

This week was one of those times when we threw the kitchen sink at the ITL family, hosting three Zoom sessions (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday). I can’t possible relate how powerful my guests were, so I’m going to pass along their thoughts in their own words today, then give my thoughts afterwards. Here goes.

Greg “Tripp” Linton of HOF Player Representatives on the biggest problem facing new agents (Tuesday): “The one thing that I wish I would have known when I first started (is) . . . the worst part about being an agent is, you don’t know what you don’t know. That is the worst part about being a new agent.”

My thoughts: I could almost have run Tripp’s entire commentary on the agent industry, which is why I brought him on to talk about agent expenses. As always, he was riveting, forceful and transparent as always. I try to be adamant about how quickly costs can add up in this business, but a lot of people don’t want to hear it. OK. Well, if you’re a new agent, at least admit that there are things you don’t know. If you don’t want to spend $29.95/mo with me, you better befriend people like Tripp who are willing to spend lots of time with you and tell you the truth, even when you don’t want to hear it.

Trevor Swenson of Dynamic Talent, on building an NIL presence (Wednesday): “So this is a store I built for one of my buddies who wanted to start his own personal training site. . . Yes, his name really is ‘Popcorn.’ . . . You got merchandise built right in there. . . . This site took me about four hours to build. So he went profitable, I think, the second day. Right now he’s averaging about $700 a day in sales, which is 100% profit because it’s training programs. So it’s super easy to do once you get it up and running, but you just have to market and brand it after it’s up there. . . I built his YouTube channel, and then he just stopped sending me videos — which is fine, he didn’t have to — but I will give you this as an example. I built his YouTube channel and I got him up to 305 subscribers in the first week. . . we got him almost 100,000 views in about a year. . . So we posted just videos of him doing the actual movements and most of these views came in the first 48 hours. So we got like 10,000 views of him doing a triceps pushdown.”

My thoughts: I realize that this passage requires a bit of context, but I think you can figure out what Trevor was saying here. I mean, have you ever heard of Popcorn Savage? Neither have I, but who cares?! He got 10,000 views in 48 hours of him doing a triceps pushdown, the least complicated move in the entire gym! I mean, I wouldn’t watch Arnold Schwarzenegger do a triceps pushdown, but somehow, Trevor got 10,000 people to watch a guy they probably hadn’t heard of do it. My YouTube page has probably been around for 10 years, and I don’t think I have 10,000 views on all my content put together. This is Trevor’s genius. He gave a two-hour presentation Wednesday, and my head is still swimming. I think everyone on that Zoom is the same way.

Damond Talbot, Executive Director of the Hula Bowl, on his philosophy on roster-building: (Thursday, as part of our Zoom with seven all-star game directors): “We all do this for one purpose and one purpose only, and that’s for the kids. I don’t care if my kids gets sniped from me by one of these guys, as long as they get an opportunity to play. I scout football, so I’ll find somebody else. It might not be the best player, but dammit, I’m gonna find somebody who checks some boxes. I’m confident in what I do. I’m not cocky, but I’m definitely confident that I can find a replacement, no matter what. . . and if you need any damn help, if you need a sleeper last minute, man, let me know. If I have one, I’ll definitely shoot it your way. Whatever you guys need.”

My thoughts: This is classic Damond, who always goes beyond the call of duty. I know when I ran the Hula Bowl, I was not nearly so magnanimous. I thought Damond earned a lot of respect and goodwill with his comments. I heard plenty of praise from agents afterward.

If you were part of this week’s Zoom sessions, as a speaker or as a participant, I’m deeply appreciative. It’s been a great week, and we’ll talk about it even more in today’s Friday Wrap. Make sure to register for it if you haven’t already.

10 Tips from Trevor: An NIL Expert Gives His Money-Making Advice

Wednesday night, Trevor Swenson of Dynamic Talent joined about 30 NFL agents on Zoom to talk about his area of expertise: name, image and likeness (NIL). Trevor’s company represents more than 400 bands, entertainers and influencers, and he’s seen the rise of social media and figured out how to exploit it for his clients’ benefit.

Here are just a few tips I picked up from listening to him Wednesday.

  • Even though football is our sole focus at Inside the League, it doesn’t mean it has to be an NIL agent’s sole focus. In fact, Trevor said track athletes “always sell,” partially because track is more individual in nature and therefore athletes are easier to identify with for potential customers.
  • Social media is very visual, so you’re going to have to identify clients that are pleasing to the camera. “Turn them into models,” Trevor recommends.
  • Facebook is one of the greatest commerce engines our nation has ever known, but it’s almost completely irrelevant to today’s athlete. Instead, get used to Google Ads as well as every vagary of each of the different platforms (especially Instagram).
  • If you’re going to get active representing players on NIL matters, get familiar with Shopify. Trevor calls Shopify “a huge tool” when it comes to marketing merchandise for his clients. 
  • If your client has a YouTube account, and hopes to make a few bucks with goofy videos or instructions on how to throw the ‘out’ route, he’s going to have to log 10,000 hours and gather 1,000 subscribers before his channel is monetized. 
  • Before a company is willing to spend money on your client, the industry standard is an expected return of three dollars returned on investment (ROI) for every dollar pledged in sponsorship.
  • If your client is a little low on followers, he can probably gain about 1,000 new ones per month if he’s aggressive about engaging with his followers and providing fresh content.
  • Before he can expect to have any sponsors, he’s going to need at least 10,000 followers on at least one social media platform.  
  • Trevor does not believe in deleting controversial posts. One reason is that no publicity is bad publicity. Another reason is that he believes his clients should own their posts and not run from them. 
  • He said the only reason he’d dump a client is not because of poor performance, but because of no performance. For example, if he represents a band that doesn’t tour for a year or more, he goes in another direction. Though they aren’t musicians, you should encourage your clients to have the same mindset. 

If you want even more, consider joining us at 8 p.m. ET next Wednesday, Nov. 17. For $100 plus tax, Trevor will present a case study on how to turn a garden variety college football into an NIL machine on a step-by-step basis. He’ll also provide the basic documents you’ll need to sign an agreement, to pitch a client to a vendor, and more. 

We’ll discuss it further in today’s Friday Wrap, which you can register for here. Ready to sign up now? Here’s the link