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Volume 20 No. 42
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New class of football signings packs surprises, starting at top

Liz Mullen
There have been plenty of surprises inside the business of agents and agencies signing the top prospects for the NFL draft this year.

NFL agents typically sign many of their rookie clients in January, and the top agents often sign the lion’s share of players. But there already have been a flurry of signings that raised eyebrows around the tight-knit football player representation business.

After media reports starting last summer that Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports was going to sign top draft pick Jadeveon Clowney, it was Hattiesburg, Miss.-based BC Sports that ended up with the University of South Carolina defensive end as a client, handling both on- and off-field work.

After media reports had him going to Roc Nation, Jadeveon Clowney signed with Bus Cook.
BC Sports owner Bus Cook, who has been representing NFL players since 1991, will represent Clowney with BC Sports NFL agents Madison Howard and Don Weatherell. “He could have signed with any agent in the country,” Cook said, adding that he does not know what the reports of Clowney signing with Roc Nation were based on. Clowney was ranked as the No. 2 prospect for this May’s draft by website

Meanwhile, Maverick Carter, co-owner of LRMR, which represents NBA star LeBron James off the court, was close to entering the NFL world by signing Heisman Trophy winner and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. ESPN first reported that Manziel had selected Carter, as well as Select Sports Group, for his contract work.

But those weren’t the only surprises. A number of lower-profile agents and agencies have signed some high-profile prospects.

Michael Bauer, founding partner of Sports Advisors, confirmed that he signed UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr for playing contract work. Barr is ranked as the No. 4 prospect by Madison, Wis.-based Sports Advisors is a relatively small NFL rep firm, with just four current NFL players listed as clients last week on its website. Barr signed with JABEZ Marketing Group for endorsements and other off-the-field work.
> NEW AGENT TO CO-REP EALY WITH OCTAGON: Joseph Clayborne, a 25-year-old agent who was just certified to represent NFL players in contract work by the NFL Players Association in September, is co-representing Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy with veteran Octagon NFL player agent Andy Ross.

“I have known Kony probably since he was 10 or 11 years old,” Clayborne said. His younger brother, Justin Clayborne, was a close childhood friend of Ealy’s. “I became an agent to make sure that Kony was protected,” said Clayborne, who has an MBA and is scheduled to graduate from Loyola University Chicago School of Law later this year.

Ealy was ranked by last week as the No. 11 prospect in the country. Clayborne said he planned to try to partner with a veteran NFL agent to show him the ropes, and spoke with several before choosing Ross.

Clayborne said that he was in the process of starting his own agency.

“I think what is out of the ordinary is for me to be in this situation as a new agent and for me to have a player like this as my first one,” Clayborne said.
> YOUNGER SIGNS CARR: Sports lawyer Tim Younger has signed Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr for representation. Carr was ranked as the No. 19 prospect by last week.

Derek Carr
Younger, who owns Younger & Associates based in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., has been an NFLPA-certified agent since 1992 and has represented free-agent quarterback David Carr, Derek’s brother, since 2010.

Younger currently represents a handful of players, including Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack, who he co-represents with veteran NFL player agent Marvin Demoff.

Derek Carr selected Younger after speaking with other agents after his last college football game, the Las Vegas Bowl, in December.

“I do know that other agents expressed interest in him, but after the Las Vegas Bowl, we had a meeting and he informed me he had selected me to be his representative.” Younger said.

Liz Mullen can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.