The projected No. 1 overall pick for Thursday's NFL draft, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, has signed an endorsement deal with Puma. Terms were not disclosed.
"I just want to be a part of something different," Clowney told ESPN.com on Wednesday night. "Why not change it up?"
Because Puma doesn't have a deal with the NFL, Clowney can't wear cleats with the Puma logo on the field. But the defensive end, who is expected to be picked by the Houston Texans, will be a big part of the company's upcoming marketing plans.
"He represents everything we are and the consumer we are trying to attract," said Jay Piccola, president of Puma North America, who presented Clowney with custom snakeskin Puma shoes valued at $2,500.
Piccola said the best part about Clowney is that "he's already a known brand to consumers and retailers alike."
Clowney is most associated with his explosive hit on Michigan running back Vincent Smith in the closing moments of the Outback Bowl following the 2012 season, but Clowney says he knows that in order to be marketable, he has to perform well in the NFL.
"I'm going to try to carry my name as far as I can," said Clowney, who also has signed a draft-week deal with Gillette and longer-term deals with New Era and Wilson. "I'll have a new hit for you too. Stay tuned. It's going to come."
Clowney joins Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman and Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles as other Puma endorsers in the league. Last summer, the brand dropped former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, less than three months after signing him, on the day he was charged with murder.
Clowney is Puma's only signee for this year's draft class.
On Wednesday, Nike confirmed it had signed all the top quarterbacks in the draft, including Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, UCF's Blake Bortles, Fresno State's Derek Carr and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater.
The brand, which has the official apparel deal with the NFL, also signed Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans, LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr and UNC tight end Eric Ebron.