Bonding, community and a paycheck for NC State football players at Food Bank event

NC State football players packed more than 500 boxes of food, enough for more than 13,000 meals, at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina in Raleigh on Saturday morning at a name, image and likeness (NIL) event.

The Pack of Wolves NIL Collective, which organized the opportunity for 57 football players, paid each participant for their work. Players committed between an hour and two hours to the event, where they assembled boxes before loading them with canned goods and other non-perishable items.

It was the first large-scale event for football players to earn money from the Pack of Wolves NIL Collective since it announced last year that it would guarantee $25,000 for Wolfpack players who participated in events for charitable organizations throughout the year. The payments are funded by donations to the collective and are on a per-event basis.

Players also post about the event on social media, helping promote the organizations.

“I’m here to help and also make some NIL money as well. It works hand in hand,” NC State defensive lineman CJ Clark said. “Being able to bond and also help the community and also make some money, it’s a great thing.”

The NCAA changed its rules in July 2021 to allow athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness. As a result, athletes can be paid for community appearances, such as Saturday’s, as well as autograph sessions, camp events, social media posts and marketing campaigns.

The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina serves 34 counties and provided more than 81 million meals to families and individuals last year. More than 500,000 people across those 34 counties face hunger, according to the Food Bank.

Players arrived before 9 a.m. on Saturday for the event where they worked alongside a few members of the community in the Food Bank’s warehouse.

“You see a bunch of our guys are out here doing something that can better the community on a Saturday,” said quarterback Brennan Armstrong, a transfer from Virginia.

“This is one of the things you’ve got to do as a team, just off the field stuff. We’re with each other so much around football all the time that I think a team is really built through just doing stuff outside that is not football related. I think just doing this stuff to help the community just brings us together and just continue to build a connection with each other.”

The Pack of Wolves NIL Collective, created last summer, is now managed by Blueprint Sports, which has 15 collectives in its portfolio. General manager Chris Vurnakes started in December.

NC State opens spring practice on March 1.

The Pack of Wolves, which works with athletes across the Wolfpack athletic department, will host a meet-and-greet with men’s basketball players at The Brickhouse in Raleigh on March 2. Fans can take pictures with their favorite players and get autographs at the free event.


Nate Brown

General Manager

Nate Brown is the General Manager of Zags Collective, leading the charge to help amplify the opportunities for the Gonzaga student-athletes through NIL partnerships with local charities, fans and businesses. With over a decade of experience in the professional sports industry and as a former business owner in Spokane, Nate is a seasoned professional who knows what it takes to succeed. Most recently, he served as the National Sales Director for a prominent west-coast real estate company, where he was responsible for driving growth and retention. With a deep understanding of sales and marketing, Nate brings a wealth of knowledge to the table and is always seeking innovative ways to drive revenue and create partnerships.With a passion for ensuring the success of student-athletes both on and off the field, Nate is dedicated to providing the necessary resources to keep Gonzaga competitive on the national stage. He understands the importance of building and maintaining strong relationships with the community and local businesses, and works to maximize opportunities for Gonzaga’s student-athletes. As the son of two Gonzaga alumni, including a father who was a baseball pitcher and also a coach for the school, Nate has a great connection to the university and a passion for ensuring its continued success. Outside of work, Nate enjoys spending time with family, including his wife Jessica and their 16-year-old daughter Brooklynn and 12-year-old son Marcus. When not working or spending time with family, you can find Nate at any one of the amazing golf courses in Spokane, honing his swing!

Mike Smith

General Manager

Mike Smith joined Micconope 1851 in March 2023 and is excited to be the General Manager and looks forward to working with Blueprint Sports increase NIL revenue generation for Florida State University student-athletes. Smith comes to Micconope 1851 from Catawba College where he held the title as the Senior Director of Athletics, Development. Prior to working in Athletics at Catawba College, Mike served as the Associate Athletics Director for External Relations at Charleston Southern University. Smith has an impressive background in the collegiate athletics industry, having held senior level development and corporate sponsorship sales roles at The University of Southern Mississippi, Limestone University, the Sun Belt Conference, Florida Atlantic University, and with multimedia rights-holders Tele South Communications at the University of Mississippi, Learfield Sports at UNC Chapel Hill, and with International Sports Properties at Georgia Tech. Smith is a graduate of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, and holds a master’s degree in Business Management from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. In his new role here at Micconppe 1851, Smith will be responsible for raising major gifts for NIL deals as well as securing NIL corporate sponsorships for Florida State University student-athletes. Mike looks forward to helping ensure the FSU student-athletes have the resources and leadership opportunities to remain competitive nationally and positioned for success well beyond graduation. Mike is married to Katy Smith; the couple looks forward to relocating to Tallahassee, Florida, and becoming a part of the Micconope 1851 and Seminole family!

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