Experts Rate Pro Endorsement Potential in Wake of College Rose Bowl Performance

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NEW YORK ( -- The star athlete always gets the girl, but does he always get the endorsements?

University of Texas quarterback Vince Young is about to find out whether his virtuoso performance in the Rose Bowl that led the Longhorns to the national championship also elevated his marketability now that he has decided to turn pro.

Photo: AP
Vince Young scored three touchdowns during the Rose Bowl and is viewed as a potentially major endorsement property.

Scoring the game winner
Mr. Young announced his intentions to enter the National Football League draft just days after Texas beat the University of Southern California, 41-38, in the Jan. 4 national title game. Mr. Young had one of the greatest individual performances in college football history: 200 yards rushing, 267 yards passing and three touchdowns, including the dramatic game-winner with 19 seconds remaining.

It is generally acknowledged he will be among the top five picks in April's draft, but whether he can corral any endorsement opportunities depends on two factors -- which market he ends up going to, and what kind of deals his two big rivals (USC stars Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush) get before him.

In fact, just among those three players, not only is this one of the most talent-laden drafts in NFL history but it includes telegenic, marketable players.

“If he goes to a big market, he’s going to burst on the scene and become a major marketing force,” predicted Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based Sportscorp, a sports business consulting firm. “If he goes to a smaller market, I’m not sure he has that breakout, national potential just yet as compared to a Reggie Bush, for instance.”

Houston's pick
Houston, the country’s fourth-largest city, has the first pick in the NFL draft. Houston is followed by New Orleans -- not exactly a hotbed for marketability right now -- Tennessee, New York and Green Bay.

Mr. Bush and Mr. Leinart were teammates on USC and led the Trojans to consecutive national championships in 2004 and 2005, and nearly again last week. Mr. Leinart won the Heisman Trophy, college football’s trophy for individual excellence, in 2004; Mr. Bush won it last year.

Both are entering the NFL draft as well.

Winning consecutive national titles, Heisman trophies and playing in big-market Los Angeles -- Mr. Young played his college ball in Austin, Texas -- already gives Messrs. Leinart and Bush a leg up.

Closing the media gap
“But I think Vince is closing the media gap on Matt and Reggie,” said David Carter, president of Los Angeles-based Sports Business Group. “What he really needs to do now is take advantage of his public appearances, polish his public speaking and polish the way he presents himself on television. For instance, I would have had him dressed differently on Jay Leno. What any athlete has to realize is that what they can get away with in college will not fly at the pro level.”

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