Top 10 Most Marketable College Athletes Right Now

Debates on whether or not to pay college athletes and whether they should be allowed to sign endorsement deals have caused quite a stir recently. With that in mind, we took a look at the most marketable college athletes, analyzing their personal brand value, and projected tweet value.

1. Johnny Manziel (@JManziel2)

Estimated Tweet Value: $3,477*

Texas A&M’s “Johnny Football” is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and he also tops this list with over 601K Twitter followers. His creativity at the QB position and fleet feet electrify crowds.

Likewise, his stardom and behavior off the field also garners plenty of media attention. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you know who he is and because of that he takes the top spot.

opendorse prospective brand: Johnny Football always seems to be making the headlines for one reason or another; a guy who seems to be “in the know”. Manziel would be a great fit for a new mobile application or a new tablet/phone/computer.  

2. Jadeveon Clowney (@clownejd)

Estimated Tweet Value: $295*

If you didn’t see his hit against Michigan in the 2013 Outback Bowl, then you probably at least felt the shockwaves. That decleater won the South Carolina DE the 2013 ESPY for ‘Best Play’ and is the longest lasting play on ESPN’s ‘Top Plays’ segment.

Clowney is projected by many to be one of the top picks, if not the top pick, in the upcoming NFL Draft. The buzz over “The Hit” and his freakish athleticism make him one of the most talked about and marketable college athletes.

opendorse prospective brand: Ever seen that V8 V-Fusion +Energy commercial (“kick in the rear“)? Imagine that energy boost being equal to a huge hit from Clowney!  

3. Andrew Wiggins (@22wiggins)

Estimated Tweet Value: $548*

Wiggins has not played a college game yet for Kansas, but the guard was the top recruit in the 2013 high school basketball class and he is projected to be the top pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. He is that good! Hailing from Ontario, Canada, Wiggins has expressed desire to play for his hometown Toronto Raptors once he officially joins the NBA.

Adidas is reportedly ready to offer him a $180 million endorsement deal over 10 years, but Nike is sure to counter-offer for his endorsement services. Any brands fortunate enough to have Wiggins as an endorser are sure to reap the benefits of his can’t miss super stardom.

He may currently be number three on this list, but he has the endorsement potential to shoot to number one on this list very soon.

opendorse prospective brand: Because of his 6′ 8″ stature, it only makes sense for Wiggins to endorse a brand such as BIG & TALL – Polo Ralph Lauren.  

4. AJ McCarron (@10AJMcCarron)

Estimated Tweet Value: $999*

He is the QB and the leader of the two-time defending BCS National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide. When you are in a position like that, marketability naturally follows.

Furthermore, he keeps his 193K Twitter followers engaged with continual up-to-date Tweets and photos. It certainly doesn’t hurt when you can pull off the bow tie look, either.

opendorse prospective brand: Scrolling through McCarron’s Twitter feed, it’s clear he is an advocate for bow ties; in all colors we might add. Brooks Brothers would probably be more than happy to have AJ endorsing their bow ties.  

5. Jabari Parker (@JabariParker22)

Estimated Tweet Value: $236*

Much like Wiggins, Jabari Parker possesses the one-and-done potential. He chose to attend basketball powerhouse, Duke, where he will play small forward.

While in high school Parker was already obligated to wear Nike. Robert Smith, Parker’s high school coach at Simeon Career Academy in Chicago, signed a four year contract with Nike which provided players with new Nike shoes and apparel worth around $26,000 per year.

His superstar status provided cheap exposure for Nike, at least for the time being, as they will have to offer more to keep him once he turns pro.

opendorse prospective brand: Many people compare Jabari Parker to Carmelo Anthony, so why not make them “teammates” in the endorsement industry? Melo is an advocate for POWERCOCO, a natural electrolyte sports drink, and we think Jabari could be, too!  

6. Braxton Miller (@BraxtonMiller5)

Estimated Tweet Value: $512*

He plays the most high profile position for one of the most high profile college football teams. Last year his QB play led his Buckeyes to an undefeated season and, so far, he has them in position to do the same this year.

Miller does a great job of sharing love with his 87K Twitter followers.

Braxton Miller Screen Shot

He even stays in touch with LeBron James, an avid Ohio State fan, and shows his support for King James by wearing his signature shoe. Now that is marketability.

opendorse prospective brand: Here we have another case of possible “teammates” in the endorsement industry. Miller and James stay in touch, so why not work together to create a campaign for McDonalds, Samsung or Coca-Cola?  

7. Julius Randle (@J30_RANDLE)

Estimated Tweet Value: $211*

You probably wouldn’t expect a 6’9” 250 pound power forward to be so smooth, but the left-handed Randle is. Don’t get us wrong, he can also play physical by guarding the rim, throwing down monster jams and securing the boards.

Playing for Kentucky, one of college basketball’s largest and most dedicated fan bases, will provide plenty of exposure and engagement. His laughter and energetic personality are sure to have fans following him in college, and into the pros where he will be highly desired by brands.

opendorse prospective brand: Like another power forward (Blake Griffin), Julius Randle could be the next best endorser for Subway. Subway teams-up with athletes that value a clean and healthy diet.  

8. Aaron Murray (@aaronmurray11)

Estimated Tweet Value: $521*

The SEC’s Career Passing Yards Leader is already adept at using Twitter to inform his 104K followers of a good cause.

Aaron Murray Screen Shot

Playing QB for Georgia, one of the SEC’s marquee teams, along with that kind of reach and recognition, makes him one of the most marketable college athletes.

opendorse prospective brand: Okay, okay, Aaron Murray is a Georgia Bulldog and obviously is involved in helping non-profits. Thoughts about endorsing a Humane Society? (We know, a play on words, but come on, it only makes sense).  

9. De’Anthony Thomas (@EATBLACKMOMBA6)

Estimated Tweet Value: $345*

While playing in the Snoop Youth Football League as a youngster, his speed and elusiveness earned him the nickname “Black Mamba,” directly from Snoop Dogg himself.

Now playing for Oregon, his highlights make him one of the most talked about players. Not only is he dominating on the field, he is impacting the youth of his community in his down-time.

opendorse prospective brand:With De’Anthony’s passion about working with youth, he is a natural endorser for any non-profit, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters or the Boys and Girls Club of America.

10. Teddy Bridgewater (@teddyb_h2o)

Estimated Tweet Value: $74*

Bridgewater is projected to be one of the top players taken in the 2014 NFL Draft. He has the talent and maturity both NFL teams and brands look for.

The only thing keeping him from being higher on this list is his less than expected Twitter followers. However, once he is drafted, that will likely change.

opendorse prospective brand: Everybody loves fried chicken, right?! Who better than to endorse Kentucky Fried Chicken, an original Louisville brand, because of his popularity within the community.  

Honorable Mentions

It is tough to narrow the list down to only 10 athletes and these athletes are too good not to mention.

Jameis Winston (@Jaboowins)

Estimated Tweet Value: $114*

The two sport star (baseball and football) is only a redshirt freshman, but he is already one of the nation’s best quarterbacks and leaders.

His marketability and Twitter followers are sure to increase as his stock continues to rise.

opendorse prospective brand: With the sheer athleticism Winston possesses, any sports training brand would be lucky to have this kid speaking on their behalf. Think Under Armour, adidas, Nike…  

Todd Gurley (@TG3II)

Estimated Tweet Value: $204*

Few people in college football have ever run with the power, speed and fearlessness of Gurley. He is arguably the best running back in college football right now.

During the offseason, no one on this list comes close to Tweeting as much as Gurley does, which keeps his 49K followers entertained throughout the year.

opendorse prospective brand: Who doesn’t love a little play on words? What about Todd endorsing a hygiene product, say a body wash, and using the phrase “It’s not Gurley!”   

Kenny Bell (@AFRO_THUNDER80)

Estimated Tweet Value: $181*

Bell makes one-handed catches and delivers punishing blocks for one of the most loyal fan bases in college football, Nebraska.

His Twitter engagement is second to none, as is his afro. He is a perfect example of what the power of loyal fans and locality can do.

opendorse prospective brand: Another athlete with quite the hair (y’all remember Troy Palamalu’s stint with Head & Shoulders), Bell is another great candidate for brands like Dove Men+ Care or Loreal Vive Pro for Men.  

Sammy Watkins (@SammyWatkins7)

Estimated Tweet Value: $196*

Watkins burst into the college football scene as a true freshman by catching 12 touchdown receptions for Clemson and becoming an All-American.

His early success made him one of the most recognizable players in college football. The next step for the Junior is to play on Sundays.

opendorse prospective brand: If somebody asked what the first thing you thought of when you heard the word ‘fast’, what would your answer be? Ours would be Jimmy Johns, freaky fast. What a perfect fit for an athlete that is praised for his speed both on the field and the track.   

Carlos Rodon (@CarlosRodon16)

Estimated Tweet Value: $28*

The left handed pitcher from North Carolina State is projected to be the number one pick in the upcoming 2014 MLB Draft.

His fastball tops out at 96 mph with movement and his slider is devastating, especially to left-handed batters. The only thing more consistent than his quality starts is his Twitter presence.

opendorse prospective brand: From what we’ve heard, Bojangles’ is kind of a big deal in North Carolina. With his 2012 9-0 record, Carlos Rodon is pretty popular in the state of NC, at least for NC State fans. Sounds like the perfect candidate for such a popular restaurant in the South.  

Can these athletes endorse your brand?

College athletes could be some of the most marketable athletes in sports. It is only a matter of time until these athletes are allowed to capitalize on their own marketability while still in school.

Luckily, many of the athletes on this list will be turning pro soon thus making them legally available for brand endorsements. Until then we encourage you to sign up for free with opendorse now and check out some of the other athletes currently available in the Marketplace.

*Estimated tweet values are calculated using an internal algorithm developed by opendorse. This is the amount of compensation each athlete could demand for each endorsed message delivered via Twitter. These values are for discussion purposes only. opendorse does not claim or represent itself as the exclusive agent, speakers bureau, manager, publicist, assistant, PR firm or management company for any athlete referenced in this article.



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