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McDonald launches apparel site, has big goals with community service

Before there was even discussion of name, image and likeness legislation in Florida, tight end Camren McDonald had begun thinking about what he wanted to do to brand himself. McDonald had a logo ready and some thoughts in mind — plans that began back when he was in high school.

“I’ve had that logo since my senior year of high school,” McDonald said, just hours after launching apparel on his site. “I’ve been working on building my brand since high school just because I knew that eventually this was what it was going to come to just based on the social media age and where things are. I knew it was important for athletes to build brands and then, when I found out that the NIL law was going to get passed on July 1, I was ready to go. As soon as midnight hit, I was more than ready.”

McDonald was able to announce the launch of his site just minutes after the calendar turned to July 1, the effective date of Florida’s name, image and likeness legislation. His “CM” logo is on clothing from shorts and sweatpants to sweatshirts and hoodies on McDonald’s site, which was developed with help from two partners, Playbooked and Boosted.

While he has spent time learning about NIL through online classes at school, McDonald said the Apex program developed by FSU and INFLCR helped him develop a deeper understanding of branding, marketing and other topics. But the process began years ago For McDonald when he read “Athletes are Brands Too” by Jeremy Darlow.

“Right when I read that I said, ‘I need to start marketing myself and doing everything that I need to do so when I’m able to capitalize off my name, image and likeness that I’m ready to hit the ground running,’ ” McDonald said. “So that’s really where I got my drive for branding. It all derived from high school. And when I got to Florida State, I was able to hone in on it a little more. And then when July 1 hit I was able to just generate a lot of takeoff speed.”

Within hours, FSU fans on social media reacted to McDonald’s post on Twitter. McDonald admitted he’s not a star in college football or even on FSU’s team but felt appreciation from the fan base.

“I’m honestly shocked that I was able to garner as much support as I did because I’m not this, not yet at least, this big household name that everybody expects to make a lot of money,” McDonald said. “So just to be able to see the support that I already have, that means a lot to me. The Seminole family was really willing and able to get behind me and support me on this one.”

McDonald said he has been intrigued by what his teammates have done in the NIL space, too. McKenzie Milton is a co-founder of Dreamfield, along with Miami quarterback D’Eriq King. Wide receiver Andrew Parchment will play video games along with fans on an app. “I’m excited to see where guys can take it,” McDonald said.

Where McDonald is taking his entrepreneurship is intriguing. And McDonald has big plans with his non-profit, To Rise and Progress. McDonald wants to do what he can to help those in need and has set a goal of doing more community service than any other student-athlete in college football. In the past few years, McDonald has helped feed homeless. He also became a certified yoga instructor during the pandemic and now teaches classes in various green spaces around campus.

“I’m really trying to dedicate my life to service,” McDonald said. “Coach Norvell, the fact that he preaches that in his program, it kind of fits right into who I am. My purpose on Earth is to serve God by serving others, so I want to do that at the highest level of college football. And effectively lead the country in community service hours and get my teammates out there with me so Florida State football can be one of the most represented teams when it comes to community service.”