Isaac Hodgins likes physical labor. Last summer, the Oregon State defensive end went through Craigslist looking for people who needed help with yard work or farming.
Same with OSU teammates Logan Horton and Jake Overman. Horton, a junior running back, used to deliver food for DoorDash and Instacart, but with soaring gas prices, it didn’t pencil out.
But prior to name, image and likeness laws going into effect last summer, college athletes had limited options to earn an income.
Now, the possibilities are endless. NIL opportunities that get most headlines are the booster-led collectives providing endorsement packages to sweeten deals for prospective recruits. But out of the spotlight are NIL possibilities for football players like Hodgins, Horton and Overman, who are using their name and sweat to make money.
Several weeks ago while Hodgins, Overman, Horton and former OSU tight end Quinn Smith were at Bible study, they started talking business. Out of it came “Dam Good Home Exterior Services,” a business where the foursome use their names as catalyst to drum up home exterior service work.
“We’re some hard-working dudes and we love hard work. That’s why we play football,” Hodgins said.
The business logo is a Beaver wearing a hard hat pushing a lawn mower. They do everything from mowing and trimming yards, pressure washing, gutter cleaning, weeding, spread backdust or mulch, window cleaning. Smith oversees the administrative side of the business, and Hodgins, Overman and Horton the labor.
“With NIL, instead of doing hit and miss jobs, we can do something that we can get our names behind. Kind of use this new thing to the college frontier to our advantage,” Hodgins said.
Though most of their business is done in the Corvallis area, they’re willing to go as far as Portland for large or multiple jobs.
They even talk like business people, too.
“We kind of realized there’s a gap in the market right now,” said Overman, a sophomore tight end.
They’re promoting the business through word of mouth, flyers, Facebook and Instagram (@damgoodhes). The flyers have pictures of the players doing work wearing football gear. They’re working on a website.
A couple of the players own pickups. Between the foursome, they have a couple lawnmowers, weed whackers and a pressure washer. They have access to people in Corvallis with larger lawn mowing equipment.
“We like to go above and beyond. For us, there’s no job too hard. We’ll leave your yard looking damn good,” Hodgins said.
Cost of jobs varies. Hodgins says they go to the home and give quotes. For example, Hodgins said they’ll mow and edge a medium-sized front and backyard for about $60. Jobs are negotiable, of course.
“We need for it to be enough for us to come out and do it, but also cheap enough for people to hire us,” Hodgins said.
To get ready for the business, Overman said they practiced on their own yards, as well as the grounds of a local church.
Among their potential clients: OSU football coaches and athletic administration staff.
“They want us to come by this weekend. They have some pretty big houses and jobs for us to do,” Hodgins said.
Hodgins doesn’t see any risk to reputation in doing jobs with clients knowing they’re affiliated with Oregon State football.
“That’s just kind of the culture of Oregon State football. We’re looking for excellence in everything we do,” Hodgins said. “If we’re mowing a lawn, it’s going to be the same amount of effort as if we’re pass rushing. The effort’s not going to change.”
The players make it clear they want to work in exchange for fair payment. This isn’t about finding a new way to get a $100 handshake from a booster.
“We’re not looking for any handouts. We’re just dudes looking to work hard, love playing football, and just happen to mow yards on the side,” Hodgins said. “This business is definitely going to help us in college.”
The group hopes Dam Good Home Exterior Services isn’t a one-summer wonder. They’d like to keep the business intact for years to come, even after Hodgins, Overman, Horton and Smith are long gone from Oregon State football.
“We’re hoping to make this big enough this summer where we can start hiring some people or maybe other student-athletes,” Hodgins said.