Apple Inc.'s Beats by Dre has deep ties to college athletics' name, image and likeness (NIL) space. Now, the company is investing in NIL on an even more lucrative level with the new "Beats Elite" class, headlined by USC quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams. Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers and Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy are also among the 15 high-profile college football athletes to its inaugural class. The company claims this to be its largest investment in the NIL space, though figures for the 15 players weren't released.
"As we've worked with our initial college athletes, we've realized how important it is for them to have brand support at that level," Beats' head of sports marketing Aminah Charles said in a statement. "The industry is moving toward truly empowering college athletes, so we wanted to take a bigger swing in this area."
Other members of the "Beats Elite" class include:
- Cade Klubnik, QB, Clemson
- DJ Uiagalelei, QB, Oregon State
- Jalen Milroe, QB, Alabama
- Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU
- Joe Milton lll, QB, Tennessee
- Jordan Travis, QB, Florida State
- Kool-Aid McKinstry, DB, Alabama
- Malaki Starks, DB, Georgia
- Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington
- Nick Singleton, RB, Penn State
- Sam Hartman, QB, Notre Dame
- Shedeur Sanders, QB, Colorado
Beats have been involved in the NIL space since it became legal for college athletes to profit off of their brand. The headphone brand had previously partnered with former Alabama Heisman Trophy-winning QB Bryce Young, former Texas RB Bijan Robinson and USC basketball player Bronny James, the son of NBA superstar LeBron James. The company also started a campaign in March by signing Gonzaga's Drew Timme and Kansas' Gradey Dick.
"This will be an annual list and we look forward to keeping an eye out for the next generation," Charles said.