Miami QB Van Dyke signs NIL deal with Newtown cafe
Will appear at event Jan. 8
Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke is a budding star in the college football world.
He’s also the first athlete to ink a name, image and likeness deal with Cover Two Sports Cafe in Newtown.
“Me and my family, we’re huge Miami Hurricane fans,” said the establishment’s owner, Tyler Tarantino, 31. “The starting quarterback is a Connecticut kid from 45 minutes up the road. When’s that ever going to happen again? We just want to show him some love.”
As part of their new partnership, Van Dyke — a Glastonbury native and Suffield Academy alum — will host an autograph signing at Cover Two on Jan. 8 from 1-2 p.m.
It’s the latest business venture for Van Dyke, who also has deals with Topps and Campus Mogul, a personalized apparel brand. College athletes have been able to profit off endorsements since July 1, when the NCAA lifted its restrictions on name, image and likeness.
The 6-foot-4, 224-pound Van Dyke has enjoyed a breakout campaign with Miami, winning ACC Rookie of the Year after throwing for 2,931 yards and 25 touchdowns. He ranks ninth in FBS in passing yards per completion (14.51), 12th in passing efficiency (160.09), 13th in passing yards per game (293.10) and 29th in
completions per game (20.20). Some have already penciled him in as a Heisman Trophy candidate for next season, not to mention a future NFL draft pick. That combined with his strong social media presence, with over 12,000 followers on Instagram and 7,000 on Twitter, has only enhanced his marketability.
For Cover Two, the deal was a no-brainer.
“Him being a quarterback, he has a chance to be one of the faces of college football next year,” Tarantino said. “If we can get him here and hang out, that’s cool for everyone. Why not?”
Part of the motivation was also to support Connecticut football. Van Dyke was a four-star recruit coming out of Suffield Academy in 2020, according to 247Sports, and was ranked the No. 1 prospect in the state. He passed for more than 4,600 yards and 39 touchdowns over his final two seasons, leading Suffield Academy to the NEPSAC Class A Championship as a senior. Van Dyke ultimately committed to Miami over Boston College, California, Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Purdue, UCLA and Wisconsin, among others.
According to Tarantino, the deal has been months in the making. Tarantino first spoke with Van Dyke’s agent in October, shortly after Van Dyke had taken over as the Hurricanes No. 1 quarterback. It was officially announced last Thursday across Cover Two’s social media accounts.
“We went back and forth. Obviously, they’re a lot busier during the season,” said Tarantino, who’s also an assistant football coach at Newtown High along with his brother Nick, 29. “We kind of took a month off and said, ‘Let’s do this when the regular season ends.’ This is our first one. It’s obviously all new to us. We’re open to anything that supports local. If we’re going to do one, then this makes sense to start.”
Miami (7-5, 5-3 ACC) will wrap up its season against Washington State in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31 in El Paso, Texas.
“He’s going to do some social media stuff for us — messages and videos,” Tarantino said. “Who knows where this goes. Who knows where this could lead. It’s all so new. For us, it’s just something fun. We’re just hoping to have a really good day that Saturday.”
There will be a $25 admission fee for the meet-andgreet with Van Dyke. Payments will be accepted either by Venmo (@covertwosportscafe) or cash at the door.
“It’s just really about doing something cool for Tyler,” Tarantino said. “It’s not really about us. We’re not trying to get anything from it. It’s about supporting a kid from Connecticut football who’s doing awesome stuff on the next level.”