We’re in a new era of NCAA sports, as athletes are finally able to monetize their likeness and earn sponsorship dollars.

One way that’s going to be interesting: seeing how many players end up in national campaigns, especially with brands or companies that pump big money into the sport. Dr. Pepper is certainly one of those brands, inescapable during college football broadcasts in the form of ads and other promotional events. (Hello, chest passers!)

One thing Dr. Pepper has managed to do: craft a long-running commercial campaign with Fansville that is at the very least not annoying, and occasionally legitimately entertaining. That’s very much a rarity, and it’s possible that it wears out its welcome in the near future, but it’s back this fall regardless. And for the first time it will feature an active college player: Clemson starting quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei, set to take over for Trevor Lawrence for the preseason #2 Tigers.

Uiagalelei has already filmed spots for the campaign, according to a company release:

“We’re thrilled to have DJ on board for one of Dr Pepper’s most exciting campaigns of the year,” said Andrew Springate, Chief Marketing Officer for Keurig Dr Pepper. “A universally loved Heisman Trophy contender who embodies true sportsmanship, DJ is exactly what fans deserve this season. He’s also the star of one of the most formidable college football teams in the NCAA whose faithful fans revel in longstanding traditions. This passion is the iconic embodiment of fandom and everything Dr Pepper ‘Fansville’ represents.”

Uiagalelei noted that while he’s more than comfortable on the field, being in front of the camera was a bit of a new experience for him:

Uiagalelei said the commercials were filmed in a hotel in Clemson, South Carolina. With his whole family there to watch, Uiagalelei was given a few lines to say and stood in front of a green screen to deliver them. It was the first time he had taped a commercial — or done any acting, for that matter — so perhaps the biggest surprise was having makeup put on for the camera.

“I was like a real actor,” Uiagalelei said with a laugh. “It wasn’t like I was just standing there. It’s going to be cool when it comes out. I’m super excited to have people see my personality and see a different side of me. I think I did a pretty good job, so I hope the fans think so also.”

Uiagelelei was pressed into action last year when Trevor Lawrence missed games with Covid, playing well in his absence despite a loss to Notre Dame. He’ll certainly be one of the faces of the sport this year, with a likely run to the playoff, but thanks to this campaign he’ll be even more a part of the sport.

[ESPN]

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.