I’d like to officially endorse some endorsements.

In the first week of the Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) era, we’ve already seen a slew of local and national ad deals. Some speak more to me than others. For example, I’m not a gamer, so while I respect the hustle for guys like Kayshon Boutte, Austin Deculus and Ladarius Tennison, who struck deals with Yoke Gaming, that’s not really my jam.

Chicken fingers, however, is my jam. More on that later.

So on this list, note that these are more like the endorsement deals that I’m jealous of. For one reason or another, they’re exactly the type of opportunities that I would’ve wanted as a college athlete. Not all of them are national, either. If they have unique origins, that plays, as well.

These are my 5 favorite advertising deals for SEC players so far:

5. Walk-On’s

SEC players — LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr.

If you’re gonna be the star at LSU during Year 1 of the NIL era, it’s safe to say you should have a Walk-On’s deal. The Baton Rouge-based Bistreaux & Bar has become a mainstay at LSU, much like Stingley:

The irony is that Stingley, unlike co-founders Brandon Landry and Jack Warner, was a decorated recruit and an instant star. Still, a guy with 135,000 Instagram followers and over 45,000 Twitter followers makes more sense to sell the restaurant, which now has dozens of locations across the Southeast.

It’s worth noting that Drew Brees is a co-owner. One would have to think that with his inevitable post-playing career popularity, that’ll be a major bonus for any future college athletes selling Walk-On’s. That’s perhaps why someone as popular as Stingley became the first Walk-On’s college athlete.

If there were an award for “most obvious partnership to begin the NIL era,” Stingley and Walk-On’s would’ve been it.

4. Milo’s Sweet Tea

SEC players — Auburn QB Bo Nix, Alabama DB Malachi Moore

Can I confess something? I’m not the world’s biggest sweet tea fan. I’ll drink an Arnold Palmer every day of the week and twice on Sunday, but for whatever reason, I never craved sweet tea.

I will, however, acknowledge that there’s probably no more fitting ad deal than an SEC player getting a sweet tea deal. Credit Milo’s for not alienating half of the state of Alabama by only doing a deal with Nix, which came out almost immediately after the NIL rules went into effect. Even if Nix’s starting days end up being limited, at least Milo’s also signed on with one of the top returning defensive backs in all of college football.

Moore picked off Nix last year in the Iron Bowl. I’m not sure if that means the star defensive back got a wealthier deal with Milo’s than Nix did. NIL deal negotiations aren’t exactly public record.

Hopefully Moore makes plenty off his jersey sales because 10% of that revenue will go to help 5-year-old Ford Bertram in his fight against leukemia.

3. Metro Straw

SEC players — Tennessee WR Velus Jones, Tennessee LB Tyler Baron, Tennessee QB Brian Maurer

I’ll be honest. I hadn’t heard of Metro Straw before July 1. Little did I know that it’s the 7-figure, Atlanta-based ground covering company that Tennessee receiver Grant Frerking is the CEO of.

You know what I love? For starters, Frerking can now legally cut himself a check and not be in violation of NCAA rules. I also love that Frerking has a bunch of teammates already signed on as spokespeople:

That’s just teammates helping teammates. I’m here for that.

I’m also here for Frerking’s newly launched GTF Enterprises, which represents college athletes and helps them with endorsements, engagements, appearances and partnerships. Former Tennessee teammates Henry To’o To’o (now at Alabama) and Trey Smith (now in the NFL) already promoted GTF Enterprises on Twitter. Frerking is on a mission to educate college athletes on financial literacy and the ways in which they can properly monetize their platforms.

If you’re worried about the NIL era negatively impacting the priorities of college athletes, take solace in knowing that there are people out there like Frerking who are motivated to make sure this becomes a positive and not a negative.

2. Raising Cane’s

SEC players — LSU QB Myles Brennan, Texas A&M RB Isaiah Spiller

If you aren’t a Cane’s supporter, I don’t know, man. That’s on you.

There’s something to be said for a place that does chicken fingers and nothing else. Well, of course there are the fries, Texas Toast and sauce. (I guess slaw also counts, but does it really?)

Brennan and Spiller — as well as Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler — are surely the envy of all for getting a deal with Cane’s.

As many pointed out, Brennan isn’t even guaranteed to win the starting job, yet you could make the case that nobody in college athletics has a better food ad deal than him. That’s a smart move to capitalize on that now and not wait until August when he’ll be in a tight battle with Max Johnson.

Props to Spiller for getting a Cane’s sponsorship, too. The A&M tailback isn’t quite a household name nationally the way that Rattler is, but he’s been extremely productive and he’s easily a top 2-3 player returning for a team coming off its best season in 81 years.

The next step for Cane’s? Get Spiller, Devon Achane and Ainias Smith ALL on board for a Cane’s promotion. That backfield already sold me on it being one of the nation’s best in 2021, and it could surely sell some chicken fingers together.

1. PetSmart

SEC players — Arkansas WR Trey Knox

Hang this in a museum.

You’re my boy, Blue!

A few things are worth noting here. One is that Knox is proof that you don’t need to be an All-American to get a national ad deal. For everyone saying that only the household names would benefit from the NIL era, this ad is proof that’s not the case. At all. Knox struggled with his confidence in Year 2 and he had 7 catches for 70 yards in 6 games of action. Arkansas fans are hopeful he can become the No. 2 receiver on his own team.

But clearly, Knox and Blue were an elite duo. Elite enough to earn a coveted deal like PetSmart. I mean, did the photographer tell Blue to stick his tongue out like Michael Jordan or was that just pure charisma?

Dogs will always be the best ads. With all due respect to everyone who signed NIL deals, there’s a clear leader in the clubhouse.

Knox and Blue forever.