UCF added to its creative reputation during Saturday’s spring game.
It included players’ Twitter handles on the back of their jersey instead of their last name. Several years back, the Knights debuted carnival-themed uniforms and launched their “Space Game” outfits versus Tulane in 2020.
UCF’s first-year head coach Gus Malzahn said they targeted Twitter because of its young alumni base.
“If you really look at it, we’ve got 322,000 living alumni and the average age is 36,” he said. “They are all on social media. We got 72,000 students all on social media and this is the new age of personal branding and we are going to embrace it within the NCAA rules. That is who we are and that is who we are going to be.”
He also doesn’t believe personal branding will divide the team, either.
“We are going to be a team,” Malzahn said. “There is no grey area with that at all. It is just the new age of college football, what is the future going to look like, and it is going to be different and we are going to be that team and that group that is looking ahead and being prepared for it but, make no mistake, we are a team and we are an extremely close team.”
With Florida’s name, image and likeness bill about to take effect July 1, 2021, schools in-state have created programs to help sell themselves to potential recruits.
The Gators announced their Gators Made initiative to provide their athletes with tools for career success. UF will supply the players with brand and social media assessment and education on top of existing resources, such as career advising, financial planning and professional sports counseling.
FSU established its own program, Apex. The multi-tiered program is designed to empower student-athletes to capitalize on NIL legislation Monday.
Miami unveiled a similar agenda called “Momentum” on Dec. 15, 2020.
"This is the new age of personal branding. We are going to embrace it." @CoachGusMalzahn on why UCF put Twitter handles on the back of their jerseys.pic.twitter.com/S6Cs0VAQc2
— Front Office Sports (@FOS) April 10, 2021
Quarterback Dillon Gabriel and former Auburn defensive end Big Kat Bryant took to Twitter to voice their support for the new jersey idea.
“Get Ready,” the signal-caller wrote. “We are doing things that haven’t been done before.”
Bryant said he loved the energy from his head coach quote tweeting a clip of Malzahn speaking at a press conference following the spring game.
UCF opens its 2021 season at the Bounce House against Boise State.