BYU Football discusses details of Built Brands agreement
PROVO, Utah -- Following Friday's football practice, BYU head coach Kalani Sitake, Built Brands co-founder Nick Greer, current walk-ons Nick Billoups and Talmage Gunther and former walk-on Tyler Allgeier, addressed the media to discuss the team's NIL agreement with Built Brands.
The following are quotes from the media session.
Head coach Kalani Sitake
On the impact the Built Brands NIL deal will have for walk-ons at BYU
"I think it's going to make things a lot easier for them to attend school knowing that school is going to be taken care of and having the mindset that someone like Nick Greer cares about them and is interested in their well being. The more you start to research and talk to people that have been walk-ons, you start to find out that it's a really hard life and so I hope that it attracts more people in here and then gives us more opportunities to get young men that we can develop. You look at some of the great walk-ons that have been through this program, not just in the last five or six years, but even before that. The program is built on walk-ons and guys that love the school and sacrifice the most to play on this team. If you look at the number of walk-ons that have had success here, it's not just unique and original to me as a head coach. BYU has been a place where walk-ons can thrive and do really well. Whether it was Bronco as head coach, Crowton or LaVell, the walk-ons have had success here.
I think at BYU, you get a certain individual that wants to play for BYU, dreamed of that opportunity to play for the Y, and being on that field in LaVell Edwards Stadium. I was one of those guys. I really think that I have a coaching staff that recognizes that desire, that energy and that want to get on the field and represent BYU and then they can put a lot of belief in them and see what happens. Right now, we're all about competing and we will play the best guys, that's what it comes down to and we happen to have really good players on our team that were former walk-ons that are gonna help us win games."
On the effect it'll have on the program
"The whole mindset wasn't to try to get a recruiting advantage or anything, it was just to do what we thought was right, and to help the walk-ons on this team, just help relieve them of some of the financial stress. I'm lucky I get to coach a team that loves each other. You see the reaction of our scholarship players and how excited they were for our walk-ons. We try to run the program where you wouldn't be able to tell who a walk on is and who a scholarship player is. You don't know the difference in the way we treat them, the way that we give them opportunities and the way we run the program. The unfortunate part of this is that there is a difference and it's in the pocket books and it's in the stress that our walk-ons have financially. I've just been here long enough to see how hard it is for them to train during the offseason and then work full time and try to save up as much money as they can going into the season, knowing that they're going to go into debt. They don't have time to work during the season because they're here working for our program. We understand the sacrifice, I think everybody on the team understands the sacrifice, if you watch Rudy, you know how much of a sacrifice that could be and so I'm just glad that we're able to make make things better for them, and I'm glad for a partner like Built and Nick Greer to allow that to happen."
On being a pioneer in college athletics
"I don't know if I can forecast what other programs are going to do. I can't speak for all of them, but if you were to ask me if walk-ons deserve to be taken care of, I'm going to say sure, of course. I only control the ones on our program, but there's a bunch of walk-ons out there in college football and in every sport that the program wouldn't be able to survive without them. If we're gonna do things for name, image and likeness for the stars and for the scholarship guys, then I think it'd be good to also remember the people that do a bulk of the work, getting us prepped for games and and getting us ready for success."
On the deal and who was involved in it
"It is a multi year deal and I'll let Nick give you guys all the details of that. I'm just grateful for the commitment that he's given to us in our team and like I said, I'm really thankful for all the people that allowed it to happen; the administration and creativity and innovation of our support staff, specifically Gary Veron, Billy Nixon, John Swift, Tom Holmoe and the entire athletic department. It's been really fun."
On the selection of Built as the sponsor
"I've known Nick for a long time, he's done great things for our program and for the athletic department. I think it just kind of worked out that way. We've been using themes like Built Not Born, and we formed Built For Life and other things that we think would be really helpful for our players and their experience here at BYU and then it just seemed like a great connection. I don't believe in coincidences, I think it was meant to be and I'm glad that Built is the brand that's with us and I'm glad that they're partnering with us in this aspect.
On the reception from those who reached out yesterday
"The ones that stuck out the most were the former players that were here, a lot of former walk-ons reached out to me and our coaching staff. Also players that are in the NFL, those ones stuck out because they saw it and they're just so happy. To have your guys that are trying to make NFL teams, win starting spots and focus on preseason games, yet they're reaching out and just saying how happy they are. It's a really cool moment for all of us."
On how the deal affects recruiting
"We're looking for the guys that fit here, that's the key. Whether they're LDS or not. I want to make sure that they fit the mission of the school, the mission of the Church and the mission of our football team, which is all in line together. We're gonna try to do our best to get out there and let people know about our school, our program, and what we're all about and hopefully that does help. I think recruiting for me has changed where I'm looking for guys that can develop in more ways than just physical, I'm looking for ways that they can develop mentally and spiritually as well."
Built Brands co-founder Nick Greer
On the nature and purpose of the agreement
“At the end of the day it's is not with BYU, it’s with the players. We entered into an agreement with each of the players and that’s what’s important about Built 4 Life and NIL as a whole. This is all about changing the dialogue of NIL and what it represents. If you look at Kalani and what he’s all about; about the spirit of family, the spirit of team. That’s what it’s all about. These last several weeks since NIL came out has been a little bit of the wild, wild west. We’re trying to navigate NIL and figure out what it means. How do you define it? The problem is that NIL has become a little bit more of an ‘I’ mentality, instead of a ‘we’ mentality. ‘What can I get and what can you get?,’ as opposed to ‘what can we do and what can we get together.’ I wished you could have seen and felt the real energy of the team when we made the announcement yesterday. They celebrated together as if they all won. That’s the power of what we’re trying to create here; changing that dialogue from ‘I’ to ‘we.’"
On the return-on-investment
“I think it’s more about the return on the players' investment and their time. That’s what we’re focused on. What is their return going to be like? How are they going to learn? How are they going to grow? What are they going to become? Our focus right now is to create an experience that gives them an opportunity to grow, to get gainful employment, to start their own businesses, whatever it may be.”
On why Built Brands entered into this agreement
"When you feel the love Kalani has for these boys, how can you not want to be around that? How can you not want to be involved with that cause?"
BYU running back Tyler Allgeier
On how he felt when the announcement was made on Thursday
"Having been a walk-on, I felt so much excitement. I got tears in my eyes. We have that feeling that everyone's being taken care of and having the walk-ons taken care of is just a blessing."
On life as a walk-on
"It’s stressful, very stressful. I’m thankful that I have my mom and family back home taking care of me financially. Some guys on the team are doing it completely on their own or with their wives. Some guys have a lot of loans, I still have some loans I need to pay off. That’s the life of a walk-on."
On why he came to BYU as a walk-on
"I didn’t have a lot of offers coming out of high school. When I came on my visit to BYU, my mom really loved the academic side of the school and I really loved the brotherhood. I’m from California and Utah’s way different from California, so having that home-feeling here at BYU is a great feeling for me."
BYU quarterback Nick Billoups
On his reaction to Thursday's announcement
“Wild! It was a crazy moment. I can’t watch the video of the announcement. Every time I watch that video, I get emotional. This is something I’ve been waiting for, for a long time. I’m just happy to be part of a family and feel wanted. It takes stress off me for sure. My mom and dad don’t have to pay for any tuition. It’s a great feeling. It’s hard to explain. Honestly, I never saw it coming. It motivates me. I’ve been working, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to stop.
On why he came to BYU as a walk-on
“I met with Coach Roderick and Coach Sitake while I was in the transfer portal and they told me about the culture. They told me how it was a family-based program and it sounded like something I wanted to be a part of."
On the culture and unity of the team
"When you walk into the locker room, you can’t tell who’s a star player and who’s a walk-on, you just see a bunch of happy guys, a family. No one judges you based off what position you play, or whether you’re a walk-on or on scholarship. Everyone is glad to be together and working toward the same goal. I’m glad to be here and part of this great family."
BYU wide receiver Talmage Gunther
On his reaction to Thursday's announcement
“Personally, the timing of it was a miracle to me. Leading up to yesterday, I hadn’t been getting the reps I was hoping for, so I came to practice feeling upset and fired-up. It was so humbling to have my name called yesterday. It showed me that all that I’ve been doing hadn’t gone unnoticed.”
On why he came to BYU as a walk-on
“I grew up watching BYU and I’ve always wanted to come here and do whatever it takes, give whatever I can to help the team win. I’m happy to do whatever my role is, as long as I’m helping the team win games.”
On what this means for he and his family
"My first thought wasn’t, ‘yes!,’ for me, it was more like, ‘oh, thank heavens, my wife is going to be so happy!’ Now she doesn’t have to stress so much about finances."
On what this means for him as a football player
"This makes it possible for me to invest more time in football during the offseason. Now I can build my skills and technique on the field so I can compete at an even higher level."