ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) – Rashan Gary realizes his dream as founder and CEO of his own sports agency.
The defensive end, who is expected to be one of the top picks in the NFL draft, has materialized his vision of high school star in New Jersey and has grown in his mind over the past three years in Michigan.
"I've always dreamed of playing in the NFL and leaving a legacy," said Gary in an interview with The Associated Press. "As I got older, I realized that football was not eternal. It's a step to take care of my family in the long run. Starting this agency is a way that I can certainly do during my years on the football field and the years when I'm not on the football field. "
He has already recruited an NFL candidate for Rashan Gary Sports. And, he hopes to attract more Major League Baseball, NBA and NHL players by promoting the agency as a means by which athletes can make the most of their earning potential.
"This will change the game," Gary told AP. "Now, players know that the power that they have and it's important to me, my family and my dream."
Gary's mother, Jennifer Coney-Shepherd, is president of this five-person agency. Certified Agent Ian Clarke will negotiate Gary's contract and will be paid as an employee of the agency instead of getting a percentage.
"I do not think it ever happened," said Gil Brandt, the NFL's leading recruitment consultant and former Dallas Cowboys staff manager. "Everyone has a new creative idea and it's the last one.
"The first contract in the NFL is relatively straightforward, with pay being pretty much predetermined whether you're 13th or 107th. I suppose a clever street guy told him about the idea of creating his own agency to keep more of his money. "
Rashan Gary Sports executives insist, however, that Gary introduce them to the pioneering idea.
"It all precedes us," said Dante Simpson, head of marketing and branding for the agency. "Ian did not throw this. I did not launch that. He and his mother shared this vision with other agents and marketers. He pursued the talent that he wanted to get to be the first to do it. "
Gary is expected to be in the top 10 picks in April, and he may be able to further strengthen his stock by showing exceptional speed and strength in scouting. Gary, a 6-foot-5, 281-pound player, trains to show how fast, agile, and powerful a player can be in Texas with Michael Johnson Performance, an agency partner.
While Gary is focused on racing and lifting, he managed to get former Bowling Green defender Gregory to sign his agency.
"Rashan has recognized his talent," Simpson said.
Gary has twice been the winner of the All-Big Ten academic body, specializing in general studies while working on a Certificate in Marketing and Sales from the Michigan Business School. He began to focus on his future after the delay of his injury season in Ohio. He declared for the repechage, skipping the Wolverines bowl game and his high season.
He was an All-American in the pre-season of the second team, but a shoulder injury has limited him to nine games. Gary had 44 tackles – including seven for losses – and 3½ sacks last season. He was a Big Ten player in the second year when he had 66 tackles, including 12 for losses and six sacks. Gary, of Plainfield, New Jersey, has signed with Michigan as the country's top high school player.
Gary could have followed the popular route and signed with industry leaders such as Creative Artists Agency or Drew Rosenhaus, but chose to try his luck.
"Rashan Gary Sports is designed for players to take ownership of their intellectual property," Clarke said. "Our model, which we prefer to keep for now, helps players manage their finances early."
The agency has only two clients, Gary and Gregory, but plans to have more NFL players in the future, while seeking to compete with other sports agents.
"We are looking to be in all major league sports," Clarke said. "We have agents with whom we have conversations and it's just about securing some of those transactions."