LAUREL — College athletics are in new age with the name, image and likeness (NIL) deals that players can attain.
Montana State has some football guys that have been able to capitalize on this, and it’s made college life quite a bit easier.
“We go to school, we play football. It adds up to 30-something hours a week in season, and all our focus is on that and trying to win games and taking it week by week," said wide receiver Taco Dowler, a Billings West graduate. "Just having a little bit of extra cash to go get Wendy's if you want it, or go out to dinner and get a steak."
So if these guys are getting paid, what kinds of things are they doing?
“I'm working on getting a taco shop in Bozeman or even Billings," Dowler said. "I did a commercial for Rib and Chop House, Great American Bagel."
"I'm doing some commercials and social media stuff with MARS in Billings," Melstone graduate and MSU defensive end Brody Grebe said. "I've done stuff through the collective, the t-shirts, we went to Twin Bridges and talked to the school and talked to some donors there."
Not only are the more recognizable guys getting paid, but everyone is as part of the Bobcat Collective. That certainly helps when it comes to bringing in some of the big-name recruits.
“If a guy comes down and he's trying to pick between FCS programs, not a lot of other places are doing this. Money in your pocket is hard to say no to, especially as a high school kid," said Nolan Askelson, a Billings Senior grad.
Now you may have seen some of the shirts floating around last season courtesy of the Bobcat Collective and the NIL Shop. It’s little things like that that send a message to the younger guys watching.
“Just giving back to your community. It's being able to do something to hopefully inspire little kids like fifth graders right now, sixth graders, high school kids that look up to me right now," Dowler said. "It's just nice helping them to reach where I'm at right now."
NIL has changed the landscape of college sports, and it’s the generations coming that will reap the rewards.