Five Auburn offensive lineman have agreed to NIL deals with Hooters.
Brandon Council, Keiondre Jones, Jalil Irvin, E.J. Harris and Cort Bradley all inked an agreement with the restaurant chain famous for its wings as part of an expansive NIL campaign by the company. The five Auburn players join offensive linemen from Miami, South Florida, Florida Atlantic, LSU, Oklahoma, Missouri, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt and Texas A&M as groups signed to deals by Hooters.
Each school had between three and seven offensive linemen secure partnerships with the restaurant, which aimed to spotlight “the unsung heroes of college football” and partner with groups of linemen instead of individual athletes in an attempt to underscore that “like a lineman, bigger is better.”
“For decades, the physical play, blue-collar mentality and on-field leadership of the offensive lineman has shined, but national praise and attention for these crucial players has all-too-often been sidelined,” Hooters chief marketing officer Bruce Skala said in a release. “We want to change the narrative and celebrate these elite student-athletes who play a pivotal role in making college football so thrilling and give them their fair share of the spotlight.”
Auburn’s group of linemen includes two returning starters from last year’s unit in Council and Jones. Council was the team’s starting left guard for much of last season before sustaining an injury, while Jones was the Tigers’ starting right guard. Both are likely to start this season, with Council an option at left guard or center for Auburn, depending on how things shake out with the status of center Nick Brahms. Irvin, a career reserve, started the Birmingham Bowl at center for the Tigers and is expected to provide depth at center and guard this season. Harris is a freshman who signed with the Tigers out of Auburn High in the 2022 class, while Bradley is a redshirt freshman walk-on from Auburn High.
As part of the NIL deal, the offensive linemen will have scheduled appearances at Hooters restaurants, as well as promote the brand on social media, “encouraging fans to make Hooters their gameday destination” or a go-to choice for fans’ tailgates and viewing parties. Established in 1983 in Clearwater, Fla., Hooters has more than 410 restaurants across 38 states and 24 countries. Auburn does not have a location, and the closest restaurant to the Tigers’ campus is Columbus, Ga.
Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.