Hendon Hooker, Cedric Tillman Unveil New NIL Merchandise

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Just like in the fall, Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker and Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman were the stars of the show on Thursday.

After reaching a deal with Spyre Sports through the NCAA’s Name, Image, and Likeness program, the two Tennessee stars had the chance to unveil their new merchandise lines.

In addition to Spyre’s own social media post, Sports Illustrated’s Jack Foster also shared some behind-the-scenes looks at Hooker, Tillman, and the different apparel that was being shown off. According to Foster on Twitter, the merchandise can be found at various Vol Shop and Alumni Hall locations in Knoxville.

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The athletes were showing off their own “shirseys”, or t-shirt jerseys, with their names on the back and everything. In addition, Hooker and Tillman also have personalized shirts with nicknames and catchphrases such as “Hendo Cinco”, “Touchdown Tillman”, and “5+4=SIX” on them.

While Tillman and Hooker were the two in the spotlight yesterday, Spyre Sports have struck a number of NIL deals with Tennessee athletes for future merchandising opportunities.

According to Spyre in an article from Trey Wallace of Outkick, “current Vols Hendon Hooker, Cedric Tillman, Evan Russell, Drew Gilbert and Brandon Huntley Hatfield” are all among Spyre’s partnered Tennessee athletes. Additionally, Spyre recently announced that five-star class of 2022 edge rusher and Tennessee signee James Pearce and four-star running back and Tennessee signee Justin Williams have also signed onto new partnership deals.

Over the course of the upcoming months, more and more partnered Tennessee athletes will likely be receiving merch opportunities.

Here in the beginning few months of the NCAA’s NIL era, there certainly have been times where deals and partnerships just seem to equal seven-digit scholarship offers. In the case of, say, five-star quarterback prospect Quinn Ewers, the NIL-wrapped recruiting mess grew out-of-proportion in a rapid amount of time.

However, for every out-of-proportion mess, there are countless deals on a smaller scale that are not only helping the athlete but helping the community as well.

One of the best local NIL stories from the fall was Tennessee DB Alontae Taylor’s NIL partnership with Moonshine Mountain Cookie Company. Whenever Taylor caught an interception in the fall, Moonshine Mountain Cookies would give away a free cookie to each of their customers. In a story like that, everyone wins – the athlete, the company, and the fans.

According to Outkick’s Trey Wallace, “the group is working to secure more deals for Tennessee athletes in the near future, as the college athletics world explodes with opportunities for student-athletes to make money off their own name, image and likeness.”

Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.