Kansas Jayhawks fullback Jared Casey had himself a game to remember after making the winning catch against Texas that brought an end to a historic losing streak for the former. In a real-life Rudy story, Casey, a walk-on who had never even played offense, managed to score the game-winner for Kansas to write himself into college football folklore and earn himself a pretty sweet deal.
College football’s new rules allow players to earn money from endorsement deals, which has made it possible for Casey to land a lucrative advertising deal with Applebee’s. The unlikely hero has signed a name, image and likeness deal with the restaurant chain and has already filmed a commercial at one of their locations in Lawrence, Kansas.
The fullback told the Kansas City Star he’s received $800 cash and $1,000 in Applebee’s gift cards as part of the deal. "My go-to is just a regular bacon cheeseburger. My friends always make fun of me because wherever we go, I'm like, 'Yeah, I'll take a cheeseburger,'" he joked.
Casey says he will use some of this endorsement money to treat some of his teammates to a meal.
The Applebee’s deal could be the tip of the iceberg for Casey. The player has also been discussing a deal with a Kansas dealership, Lewis Automotive Group, and is hopeful he will be allowed to earn from that end as well.
"They gave me a call a couple days ago," he revealed. "They're gonna talk to the university and see what we could get done there."
Casey would also hope a deal would get him a new vehicle as he drives a Kia Spectra that already has 230,000 miles on it.
"I don't know how it still works. The cruise takes off and on sometimes ... you don't got to put that in there," he said. "But yeah, it's been a family car for sure."
"He's put a lot of miles on that little Kia of his going back and forth from Plainville to Lawrence," Jared’s brother Justin said.
It’s been reported that Casey has been contacted over a potential shirt deal too!
As for the match itself, there was lots of significance attached. The Kansas program is considered to be an avenue for easy wins in the Big 12 and, prior to their win vs. Texas, they were in the middle of a number of losing streaks.
Kansas had played on the back of an eight-game losing streak overall, an 18-game Big 12 conference losing streak, a 20-game losing streak against FBS opponents, and a 56-game losing streak away in the Big 12.
The win also marked their very first over Texas while playing in Austin and, before last Saturday, had only beaten them on four occasions, the last coming in 2016 and the one before that way back in 1938. The NCAAF picks offered by the main sports betting sites certainly wouldn’t have favored them against Texas.
The Jayhawks are playing their first year under the tutelage of coach Lance Leipold, who replaced Les Miller following his dismissal. Leipold had successful stints at Buffalo and Division III University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He posted a 109-6 record at the latter, winning six national championships, having led the team to the Division III national championship game seven times.
There will be some who are against Casey earning money in the wake of his big play but colleges allowing players to get paid has come about way too late. College football is no amateur sport and NCAA Division I football is an industry that rakes in billions of dollars.
Schools make ridiculous money off players so there’s really no reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to sign contracts based on their likenesses. While they are getting a free education, it’s only because of the hard work they put in. That does take a toll on their bodies, making the window in which they can earn a very small one, especially if they never make it to the pros.
Of course, schools have been playing players for as long as college football has been a thing, they just don’t have to conceal it now.
Meanwhile, Casey’s hometown of Plainville, Connecticut has been alight ever since his TD. Plainville has a population of just 1,800 and doesn’t even have stoplights, but they do have a bright star to boast, at least for the time being.
Justin, an insurance agent who also works as a volunteer fireman along with the mayor, said two national TV crews were scheduled to visit the town while the mayor wants to honor Casey at a high school basketball game.
"That's how small of a town it is, but Jared has put us on the map," Justin said.