Making the Most of NIL with Darien Rencher

Darien Rencher made his mark at Clemson. While enjoying success on the football field, he also made an impact in the community. Recipient of numerous awards including the 2020 Disney Spirit Award, 2021 Clemson Community MVP, and 2021 AFCA Good Works Team, he was finally able to capitalize on his name, image and likeness during his sixth season with the Tigers as he earned his master’s degree. 

With a social following of 250K+ followers across all platforms, he knew how to connect with fans and followers across the country. He’s remained fun, authentic, and true to his values. 

“I felt like I was prepared before NIL hit to really build my personal brand and to put myself out there,” he said. And in terms of social success, Rencher also gives a hat tip to Clemson’s creative department. 

“Clemson did a good job of providing us resources. Whether it just having good photographers, good content, they would tag us in posts.” Last year we caught up with Clemson’s Senior Director of Creative Solutions Tyson Hutchins to discuss how content is impacting the efforts of players in their program and what the future of athlete-driven content might look like. 

Rencher mentioned he follows people who show their life off the field, and he tries to do the same with his content. Sharing his life has played a big role in his approach to TikTok. 

“A lot of people want to follow the journey of a college athlete, so I just try to be transparent and express myself on social, especially on TikTok,” said Rencher. “I think people on TikTok just want to see behind-the-scenes stuff.” 

Consistency is key. 

“A lot of guys already do stuff and put out content,” he added. “But if they could just be consistent with it and know what their fan base wants – because every fan base loves the guys that play for that team – and show them the things that are normal for college athletes, [that is] great content…Whether it’s eating food, traveling to a game, what you wear on game day, just show your life.” 

Knowing how to grow a personal brand on social media is especially important in the NIL era. Rencher said it best, “Followers are currency nowadays, especially when you talk about making money on social media.” 

And taking it a step further, it’s important to “be a creator, not just a consumer. We all consume so much content, but the money is there for those who create it.” 

Rencher took being a creator to the next level this past summer by starting his own podcast, The Player’s Club Podcast. He landed notable guests like Hunter Renfrow, Trevor Lawrence, and Dabo Swinney. 

He was unsure how it was going to go, but Rencher hit all his goals and continued the podcast.  

“I could’ve sucked at it but I’m going to give it a try for the next six months and see if I can hit some goals,” he admitted. His motivation behind starting his podcast was being able to capitalize on his moment in the spotlight as a student-athlete. 

“I really wanted to make sure I had some long-term plays as far as a career,” he explained. “I think the best I’ve seen it done is when people start something like that or venture out into that space while they’re still playing because they have the notoriety and the hype still with them. I think it’s hard to transition if you wait until you’re done playing collegiately or professionally.” 

Within the first six months of NIL, Rencher signed deals with Allstate, Athletic Brewing, Raising Cane’s, Whatnot Sports, Taco Bell, and Dr. Pepper.  

“That’s the beauty of NIL: College athletes are helping other people make a lot of money, so for you to get a piece of that pie. It’s right and overdue. I think being able to operate in a business world is good for anyone. Adulting is real and you have to learn how to talk to people about how you can help them make money and how you can make money.” 

As Rencher prepares for his Pro Day, he continues to share his life with football fans around the country. Whatever happens next in his professional career, his community will be there for a lifetime. 

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