TikTok has become pivotal for influencers, and for college athletes with large followings, it could translate to lucrative sponsorship deals. With the change in the NCAA ruling taking place in July, many athletes are signing contracts, while others are still reviewing possible partnerships. Here are some of the most-followed college athletes on TikTok.
In addition, to having more than 1 million followers on Instagram, Dunne has become a huge TikTok star since joining the platform in 2020. She is one of the most-followed NCAA athletes in the U.S. and the recent ruling by the NCAA has her poised to become one of the highest-paid college athletes in the country.
Fresno State Basketball
A TikTok video made during the pandemic booted these twins from being stars on the basketball court to becoming overnight social media darlings. Their following paid off as soon as the NCAA rule changed, as they immediately inked a deal with Boost Mobile and have subsequently landed two more sponsorships.
South Alabama Basketball
Her school may not be prominent on the national scene, but Ferguson certainly is. The guard for the South Alabama Jaguars has built a significant following revolving mostly around what she’s eating. Whether she’s downing a breakfast smoothie or trying Indian food for the first time, every video managed to draw a crowd.
University of Houston Football
Although his football skills have earned him plenty of attention on the field, his entertaining personality has given this running back the upper hand in social media. His TikTok account, which he shares with his girlfriend, is a mashup of comedy, dancing and lip-syncing. He’s also a big fan of fashion and is already a luxury lifestyle influencer — which could lead to some profitable partnerships.
The 6’7” forward for Oregon’s women’s basketball team got a boost in her following during the NCAA tournament when she posted a video showing the difference between the men’s and women’s locker rooms. But it’s not the first time she has used her massive following to shed light on injustices toward athletes, which means she could pick up some significant sponsorships from brands looking for an outspoken and seemingly fearless influencer.
Shawnee State Basketball
To pass the time during the pandemic in 2020, the 6’1” forward for Shawnee State started making TikTok dance videos with Michigan State guard Adrien Nunez. Since then, both have watched their followings explode. They share a YouTube channel as well, but their comedy and dance routines on TikTok routinely attract more than a million views.
LSU Tigers Basketball
Shaq’s son is dominating in college athletics—at least when it comes to social media followers. Although his Instagram game is stronger, he’s certainly no slouch when it comes to TikTok, where he has a million and a half followers. His often humorous videos include his family members and show that O’Neal isn’t afraid to make fun of himself.
Kentucky Track & Field
The hurdler for Kentucky has the largest TikTok following among college athletes at her school thanks to her popular videos. She’s a star on other social media platforms, too, but her TikTok videos have accumulated some 8 million likes — and counting.
University of Connecticut Basketball
The Huskies guard had a great freshman year that saw her sweeping the sports awards, including taking home ESPY’s trophy for Best Female College Athlete. Her high profile and growing social media audience had The Wall Street Journal guesstimating she could pick up $1 million in endorsement deals this year.
The daughter of former NBA player Antoine Walker is scoring plenty of points both on and off the court, thanks to her TikTok game. After graduating from Northwestern University, where she led in blocking in 2018 and 2019, she was picked up by Virginia as a graduate transfer, where she has one year of eligibility remaining — which should be plenty of time for her to pick up some partnerships.
Owens has mastered the art of the viral video, using TikTok to show her dance moves, and frequently enlisting her Baylor teammates to join her. The All-American guard has the advantage of being a highly visible player at a popular school, which could give her even more of a home-court advantage when it comes to sponsorships.
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