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What does NIL mean for an offensive lineman? Blake Jeresaty will find out.

Blake Jeresaty

Bishop England graduate Blake Jeresaty was an All-American lineman at Wofford before transferring to Illinois. Photo provided 

Blake Jeresaty's achievements in college football are considerable.

The Bishop England graduate was an All-American lineman at Wofford, helping the Terriers to three straight Southern Conference titles and winning the award as the league's top offensive lineman while also earning academic honors.

He then transferred to Illinois of the Big Ten, and earned a starting job on the Illini's line during spring practice while pursuing a master's degree in Finance.

That's good stuff.

But in terms of Q rating (a measure of familiarity and appeal of celebrities), Jeresaty ranks somewhere below Trevor Lawrence and college gymnasts with 3.9 million followers on TikTok.

So what does the NCAA's new name, image and likeness policy — which allows college athletes to earn money from endorsements and other deals — mean for a guy like Blake Jeresaty, a 6-2, 295-pound combination of brains and brawn who toils in the relative anonymity of the offensive line?

He's eager to find out.

"I just feel like there's a lot of money for college athletes to be had with NIL, and I'm so fortunate to be where I am and in the position I'm in at the University of Illinois," Jeresaty said. "It's definitely interesting times."

Early deals announced as NIL got underway on July 1 included Iowa basketball player Jordan Bohannon signing autographs at a fireworks store. Patrons who spend $10 on fireworks at Boomin Iowa Fireworks were entered into a drawing to win the shoes he wore when he hit a game-winning shot against Wisconsin in 2017. Bohannon also has an online store with T-shirts launching today.

At North Carolina, basketball player Armando Bacot has partnered with Maryland-based food company Jimmy's Seafood.

And, Jeresaty might be interested to learn, Ohio State offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere has signed an endorsement deal with Flix CV, a video platform specializing in building a “10-minute interview highlight reel” for companies attempting to hire new employees, according to 24/7 Sports.

Jeresaty dipped his toes into the NIL pool by tweeting out an endorsement of Gopuff, a delivery service.

That deal was done through opendorse.com, a platform built by two former Nebraska football players to link up athletes with NIL deals.

"Companies all over the world have the opportunity to reach out to you on specific deals," Jeresaty said. "So I have been able to do that, and we'll see where things go."

"Brand" is a buzzword for athletes and NIL, and Jeresaty is aiming to build his.

"A determined student-athlete who takes academics very seriously and is passionate about my sport," he said. "I hope to reach out to companies that I think are aligned with that and see if they have interest.

"I'm not Trevor Lawrence, and UnderArmour probably won't be calling and asking for an exclusive deal," Jeresaty said. "But there may be opportunities with restaurants around the area or things like that. I really like coffee, so people might want to use me for that."

Group appearances with his fellow Illini offensive linemen are also a possibility, he said.

"I don't know what the market is like for some of these companies utilizing guys like me, an offensive lineman," he said. "But I have had some success and my name is out there in some different markets — Charleston, Spartanburg and now Champaign, Illinois. So I'm hoping to tap into all three and try to monetize on what I've built in my athletic career.

"I don't know what that might be, but I'm hoping there's something."

Reach Jeff Hartsell at 843-937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC

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