Will Levis seems to have the world by the tail as many project the Penn State transfer to be QB1 when Kentucky opens the season at home on September 4th against Louisiana-Monroe.
After all, Levis looks the part of an SEC quarterback, standing 6-foot-3 with a ripped frame to go with a rocket arm, all of which are on full display on his social media pages.
It would also appear that Levis has all the tools to be an effective leader, coming from a family of football royalty in his native New England, and earning a Finance degree in just three years, all of which make Levis a hot commodity as student-athletes dive into the new Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) era.
However, despite his confidence on the field, the Madison, Connecticut native recently admitted that taking ownership of his own personal brand was a bit overwhelming during a paid appearance on the DIY Money Podcast with Quint Tatro, the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Joule Financial in Lexington.
“First of all, it’s intimidating. I’m not going to lie,” said Levis of the NIL rule. “It’s unchartered waters. It’s something that I feel like...this kind of first year of it all, it’s a lot of just touch and go. It’s a lot of just trial and error.”
Levis, named one of the top players in the transfer portal, is in a three-way battle for the quarterback spot with fellow transfer Joey Gatewood, who previously played at Auburn, and former Lexington Catholic standout Beau Allen.
Regardless of who starts under center this season, NIL has already changed the game, especially for high profile quarterbacks such as Alabama freshman Bryce Young who’s projected to make seven figures before even taking his first college snap.
“You have to realize what effect it (NIL) has on your brand and your image,” said Levis. “You don’t want to just take anything that comes at you because there might be a bigger thing later and you don’t want to muddy the waters that way. So, I mean, it makes my head spin. It still does. I mean, I’ve took some time to kind of settle down and make a plan.”
For Levis, who has three years of eligibility remaining, all money-making opportunities will be part of a larger conversation with his parents and a newly signed marketing firm that will work in collaboration to create an NIL game plan.
Levis is already a TikTok star, with more than 52,000 followers and a video that went viral as 2.7 million viewers watched him throw passes in a practice facility in January. He also has more than 39,000 followers on Instagram and announced his first NIL deal with Barstool Athletics on July 3rd.
“This is really a pivotal moment for me because I wasn’t really the type of person to kind of broadcast my life on social media. I didn’t want to necessarily brag and like, put videos out, put pictures out, just kind of be about me, me, me,” said Levis. “As bad as it sounds now, you kind of need to do that. I mean, there is now a direct correlation between your followers and your bank account now as a college athlete, for now until the end of time, because this is going to just get more and more complex as it goes and the opportunity for money is just going to be more and more found out for all of these companies that want to get involved with things like this.”
While UK Athletics has put out guidelines for NIL, student-athletes are still trying to determine how to best capitalize on new opportunities as things like appearance fees, autograph signings, merchandise sales and camps seem to be the most logical entry-point to new revenue. But what about making income as a social media influencer?
“I mean, someone reached out to me like, how much to do this? How much to post this? I don’t know,” said Levis. “What is a post on my Instagram worth to me? What is a story worth? What is a shout out for a company or anything else worth to me? And I think you don’t want to have companies take advantage of kids who really will do anything for a couple of bucks. That kid with fifty thousand followers, a post for them is worth more than twenty bucks and they got to realize that so that’s the next step.”
In addition to the NIL conversation, Levis also talks football, including why he choose Kentucky, how he will approach the quarterback battle this fall and his goal of one day getting to the NFL. You can watch the entire interview below.