Justyn Mutts discusses NIL ventures after return to Hokies

The versatile forward says he has unfinished business, as Virginia Tech looks to build on its first-ever ACC Tournament Championship.
Published: Jul. 8, 2022 at 6:11 PM EDT
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - As Hokie Nation held its collective breath, Justyn Mutts put all Virginia Tech basketball fans at ease last month with his decision to run It back in Blacksburg.

The versatile forward went through the pre-draft process in Vegas, training alongside other NBA hopefuls, including his Hokies teammate Keve Aluma, before opting to return for his final year of eligibility.

“Through that process, though, I was still able to keep in great communication with Coach [Mike] Young through phone calls, text messages, every day, every other day,” said Mutts in a sit-down interview with WDBJ7. “He also came out to see me in Las Vegas just to spend some time during that process, and he would just talk to me. Not trying to recruit me back, but just trying to see where I was at mentally as a person because he really cares about me, and that’s something I could never overlook.”

Mutts says he has unfinished business in Blacksburg, as the Hokies look to build on their first-ever ACC Tournament Championship.

“Blacksburg has become truly my home,” he said. “You see the ‘This is Home’ quote and when I first committed here, when I first was looking into Virginia Tech, I didn’t understand. I didn’t really get it but, once I got here, I actually got to meet the people and see what it feels like to actually be in this environment. There’s nothing like it.”

Before taking the court, though, Mutts, along with teammates Hunter Cattoor, Darius Maddox and Sean Pedulla, struck deals with Commonwealth NIL, a company helping Tech athletes build and profit off their personal brands.

Co-founded by former Virginia State Delegate Nick Rush and his son, Forrest, the collective aims to keep Virginia Tech competitive in the national landscape of Name, Image and Likeness.

“We talked about building the total package,” said Nick Rush. “It’s not just Justyn Mutts on the court, it’s the whole person. This is an athlete with two master’s degrees and a bachelor’s degree. He’s a really good poster child for what’s good about college athletics right now.”

Mutts says part of the focus with NIL is on growing his brand as a player, both on and away from the court.

“Once you step into the real world, the ball isn’t going to be there to save you anymore,” said Mutts. “A 3-point shot isn’t going to protect you anymore. You have to be able to have different resources, different connections and things like that. Through bringing NIL to college athletics, that is what is allowing young athletes to do now—work on establishing themselves and building a brand within a professional space.”

Donors can sign up for monthly subscription plans to support the players financially, while Mutts hopes to keep growing his personal brand with an upcoming new podcast.

It’s all part of what Rush hopes is just the first step into the evolution of Hokie sports.

“I think the future is bright for Virginia Tech athletics,” he said, “and we’re going to be really competitive in NIL.”

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