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Michigan running back Blake Corum leverages new NIL policy with NFT deal

Michigan running back Blake Corum joins Yahoo Finance with Draftly CEO and Co-Foudner Nick DeNuzzo to discuss the NCAA athlete's new NFT collection.

Video Transcript

- Draftly. It's helping college athletes create their own NFTs to monetize their name, image, and likeness in one of the latest intersections between web3 and sports. Here to discuss is Nick DeNuzzo, CEO and founder of Draftly; Blake Corum, University of Michigan running back; and Yahoo Finance's own Josh Schafer. Thank you all for being with us today. Nick, I'll start with you. Tell us how this works, and why college athletes are turning to Draftly to help produce their own NFTs.

NICK DENUZZO: Well, thank you very much for having us on today, too. I really love talking about NFTs and college sports. Draftly, like you said, is a platform that helps college athletes monetize their name, image, and likeness by producing NFTs, allowing them to make a quick buck, but also building their community of fans and other athletes and coaches and university officials into one consolidated place. And this is an excellent way for college athletes to monetize an image or likeness in a very quick way that does not prevent them or take them away from the field and the game they love.

JOSH SCHAFER: Wait. Can you just break down for us? I don't know if you knew anything about NFTs before this, or just kind of what was attractive about the NFT part of the opportunity to you?

BLAKE CORUM: Honestly, I didn't really know too much about it. I heard about it. I believe some NBA players had some NFTs that went for some big bucks. But I'm not even going to say I still know a ton about it, but I know a little more than I did. But it's the new wave. It's the new thing. It's up and coming. I wouldn't say everyone knows about it, but more people are starting to know about it. And so when they reached out to me, I was like, of course, I'm really excited to create an NFT. It's really just up from here.

JOSH SCHAFER: And how have you sort of approached NIL deals in general? Since it's become a thing since July, how have you sort of decided what's attractive to you? And were you able to spend time on it during the season? I know you guys have a pretty tight schedule. I don't if you had time in your day allocated toward looking at NIL. How did you approach it during your one year?

BLAKE CORUM: Right. Personally, I kind of just focused on the field. That's been my dream since I was a kid, just football, reaching my goals, going to the next level. So I kind of just really focused on that. But when I had some downtime, maybe Sundays, whatever, I would look at people reaching out, emailing, and what type of deals they wanted.

You can't jump on everything. You have to accept things that you like. You can't do everything for just the money. So the deals that I like, I accept. The deals I don't really think go with me and what I want, I decline. But I kind of just focus on the football aspect right now. That's my main focus. It's my main purpose.

NICK DENUZZO: Hey, Blake, I'm curious. When you look at the cost of some of these NFTs, there's one for you for 25 bucks. So the entry point is easy. Do you own any? Do you have friends who own them?

BLAKE CORUM: Yeah. Actually, a couple of my friends actually bought a couple of my NFTs that just dropped. They bought a couple. They said they wanted to get in. And so they got in. But personally, I don't own any. I'll probably end up buying a couple. But as I learn more about it, I'm going to get into it more and become an NFT owner.

JOSH SCHAFER: And Nick, one thing. We have Blake's NFT up right now. And you could see it that there's not kind of that flagship Michigan helmet on it. And I think that's probably, with the licensing with Michigan and some of the schools, that's something that's come up in a lot of the NIL deals is kind of the schools allowing you to use their licensing. Is that something that you guys have talked to schools about yet, Nick, and how is Draftly approaching that? Do you think maybe eventually you will be able to get that licensing and kind of use the true Michigan jersey on the NFT?

NICK DENUZZO: Yes. That is a fantastic question, and something that we are actually working on right now. We've had various conversations with different rights-holders in the space to make sure that for any future drops for Blake or for Jack or any of our other athletes, we'll be actually able to use the logos and trademarks directly within our NFTs.

Right now, we are just concerned about getting Blake's NFTs out before the playoff games that happen on the 31st. But for our future NFTs, all of our fans and customers should be able to expect the full Michigan logo, the trademarks. And that's something our team will work very diligently on over the next several months to make sure it's live.

- Nick, I'll give you the last word here. I'm wondering, with this partnership with college athletes-- I know you also work with high school athletes as well with the NFT creation process-- where do you see these kinds of partnerships going in the future?

NICK DENUZZO: Yeah, it's a fantastic question. So what I really see is we're in the early stages, the early days of NIL rules and laws within the United States, within college sports. And we're also in the early days of NFTs right now. We all saw the massive NFT wave that started last March, the NFT summer that happened where JPEGs were going for absurd valuations. And now we're going to move into a phase where these NFTs are going to be associated with utility and value.

So in addition to actually buying an individual NFT like Blake's, in the future that NFT will be tied to individual private communities for all the Michigan athletics and fans. These NFTs will be your access point to actual physical, in real-life meetups and events before games at bars, et cetera, too.

And so we're going to start seeing NIL and athletes use these as a tool to create community, to bring fans in and directly engage them in order to build a relationship over multiple years, instead of simply just an advertising deal that nets them some money in a quick drop. And that's really where I see the market evolving for college sports NFTs in the future.

- All right, we'll leave it there for now. Nick DeNuzzo is CEO and founder of Draftly; Blake Corum, University of Michigan running back; and Yahoo Finance's own Josh Schafer. Thank you all so much for joining us this afternoon.