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How Nicholas Singleton's NIL Deal Could Start a Wave at Penn State

James Franklin wants Penn State to grow its NIL presence. A Pennsylvania CEO wants to help.

When James Franklin implores Penn State fans to rally behind the concept of Name, Image and Likeness, he might want them to meet B.J. Werzyn.

Werzyn, the founder and CEO of the Pennsylvania-based West Shore Home, not only signed an NIL deal with Penn State running back Nicholas Singleton but also wants to draw more businesses to the NIL marketplace. In fact, as a Penn State graduate and football fan, Werzyn called that imperative.

"That's one of the reasons why I wanted to get a deal done," Werzyn said in an interview, "just to serve as a catalyst that other people see this happening, get interested in it, learn more, understand that this is how it’s going to be going forward [in college football] and hopefully help get the momentum going."

West Shore Home, a home-remodeling company based in Mechanicsburg, in June announced a three-year deal with Singleton, one of the most exciting players of Penn State's 2021 recruiting class. Werzyn loved Singleton's story.

As a senior at Gov. Mifflin High, Singleton rushed for 2,043 yards and 41 touchdowns and was named the Gatorade national player of the year and the Maxwell Club's offensive player of the year. He compiled a 3.51 grade-point average and participated in several volunteer initiatives, including Gov. Mifflin's elementary school literacy program.

After meeting with Singleton, his family and his agent, Werzyn said the deal came together quickly. Singleton will promote West Shore Home through social media campaigns, conduct appearances and autograph signings and participate in the company's charitable events.

In exchange, West Shore Home benefits from the varied branding and public awareness opportunities of its first marketing deal involving Penn State.

"Everybody understands how endorsement deals would work with professional athletes, but how would it work with a college athlete?" Werzyn said. "So I went up to Penn State and I met with coach Franklin and the team, and we were all trying to figure it out together.

"I learned about Nick, the Gatorade Player of the Year, and a friend of mine, [broadcaster] Ross Tucker, knew the family. Good family, good kid, great athlete. So it really kind of fit our values and our brand, and the stars aligned."

Beyond this particular deal, Werzyn hopes to energize the NIL marketplace at Penn State. Franklin has made clear that he wants Penn State and its fanbase to become more aggressive in the NIL space.

In a June media session, Frankin reiterated what he wrote in an open letter to Penn State fans: Ignore NIL at your peril.

"We've got to do everything we possibly can to put Penn State in the best position this season, and then also protecting our own roster for the future, and then also putting ourselves in a position to be able to tell a story and show the incoming guys what we’re doing and how we’re taking care of our program and our current roster," Franklin said.

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Werzyn has been one of those ambassadors. He has spoken with Franklin about NIL, introducing the coach to fellow business owners who want to learn more about the market and its value.

West Shore Home has spent marketing dollars in sports before, becoming an official partner with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2016. But West Shore Home had not invested its marketing budget into Penn State sports prior to the NIL deal with Singleton.

"This is the shift of where college football is going," Werzyn said. "Being an alum, being a Penn State football fan, I wanted to be able to support the football program. It’s not a big secret that the football program is what generates the revenue that drives all the athletic programs at Penn State. So keeping Penn State competitive, keeping them relevant, was important to me."

Though headquartered in Mechanicsburg, West Shore Home has offices in 15 states. Many of those operate in SEC states such as Florida, Georgia and Texas. Asked whether he planned to sign SEC athletes to NIL deals, Werzyn answered in two parts and wore his Penn State colors.

"From an NIL standpoint, those are the schools that are ahead of the curve when it comes to stuff like this," Werzyn said. "So doing deals with a kid from Georgia or Alabama or Florida or Tennessee would obviously be something that we could take a look at.

"But we could also look at maybe keeping this focused on Penn State for the time being as they’re recruiting kids from the south — kids who are coming out of high school from Florida, kids who are coming out of high school from Texas. So maybe it's doing some NIL deals with them, where we could promote that here in our offices in Pennsylvania but also at the offices where the kids are from."

Werzyn said that Penn State "obviously has some work to do" nationally regarding NIL, which is where he hopes to help. By engaging with fellow business owners, in Pennsylvania and beyond, Werzyn wants to ensure that Penn State can grow its pipeline of NIL investors.

"[Franklin] recognizes that this is the new world order for college football and that this has got to be their top priority to make sure that they stay competitive to win a national championship year in and year out," Werzyn said. "He and I talk or text quite frequently, just trying to help him get the word out and get some momentum going here."

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AllPennState is the place for Penn State news, opinion and perspective on the network. Publisher Mark Wogenrich has covered Penn State for more than 20 years, tracking three coaching staffs, three Big Ten titles and a catalog of great stories. Follow him on Twitter @MarkWogenrich. And consider subscribing (button's on the home page) for more great content across the network.