Meet the man behind Europe’s college football invasion

Brandon Collier, a football visionary known as the Ambassador, laughs over the phone when asked how much sleep he gets.

“Nah, you’re right, I’m not sleeping,” the 35-year-old founder of Premier Players International said recently. “I was probably on average four hours (per night) over the last two months. It’s a lot of work. ”

With Collier at the helm, PPI’s fourth annual Dreamchasers bus tour of the United States again this summer in search of college scholarship offers for talented European teenagers. Two separate groups of about 30 prospects for American football, from 10 different countries, made unofficial visits to nearly 40 campuses in June and July.

About a third of them received some form of scholarship offer with National Signing Day still nearly six months away, and in a four-year dream, the pursuit of the conversion rate is better than 60 percent.

Collier’s brain child has come a long way since 2017, when the summer trip consisted of only 13 potential student-athletes stopping at 10 college football facilities in nine days. Rutgers, Temple, and Towson State were among the earliest connections Collier made for his atypical collection of prodigies.

In 2018, the list of participants had doubled. It rose again in 2019 to 43, reinforced by a development camp in March, where coaches from Notre Dame, Michigan, Penn State and Georgia Tech visited the PPI in Germany.

After a Covid mandate break in action, Dreamchasers were back on it this summer.

Nor is it a courtesy visit. Penn State coach James Franklin treated Collier’s children as guests of honor upon their arrival at Happy Valley; Ohio State’s Ryan Day did the same in Columbus.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly gave a 30-minute speech to the group— “He does not do it for everyone,” Collier said — and even Alabama’s Nick Saban made them feel special.

Well, specifically a Swedish tight end named Theo Melin Ohrstrom, who happens to stand 6-foot-6 and weigh 245 pounds while testing the charts. A rising junior with a four-star rating and design on reclassification to Class 2022, Melin received a scholarship offer from Saban from a single training session.

The seven-time national championship coach never even watched feature films on Ohrstrom, who this week gave his oral commitment to Texas A&M and former Saban assistant Jimbo Fisher.

“The kids see that these coaches really respect me in a way,” said Collier, a former UMass defensive end who briefly played in the Canadian Football League before landing in Germany. “Everyone knows who these coaches are, and “They know I’m in it for the right reasons. We got a group of international kids to take pictures with (big name coaches). You can’t pay enough money to get something like that.”

Even with a skeleton staff that includes only two scouts in the European area and another full-time administrator, Collier says he hardly gets rich from his idea. Young players and their families pay to attend a series of combine-like gatherings around Europe throughout the year, and the most promising of these prospects are invited to pay their way into Dreamchaser’s tour bus.

Just 10 percent of this year’s 600-player applicant pool was chosen to take the trip.

“I do not want to waste the kids’ time,” Collier said. “I’m not looking to take the kids’ money. If they do not have a chance to get a scholarship, I do not invite them over. ”

They sleep four to a room at Comfort Inns and similar motels to keep costs down, and you should see Collier’s children smashing the complimentary breakfast buffet in the lobby. Including airfare, transportation, lodging, meals and a tour fee, it can cost nearly $ 4,000 per person. Player.

However, it is a relatively good bargain if it ends up getting a four-year scholarship offer to play college football in the United States

Collier is open to the concept of corporate sponsorship, and he recently scheduled meetings in Los Angeles with a production company that has shown interest in a future reality TV series or documentary. For now, however, he and PPI operate on a cumbersome budget, even in these early days with the options of Name, Image and Equality.

“Everyone tells me you can not do it yourself, which I know, but it’s hard to find someone willing to work for the kids like me,” he said. “It’s hard to step away, but in order for it to grow as needed, I would like to have some kind of full-time scout in every country in Europe.”

For the next two to five years, Collier sees himself as the CEO of an operation with a team of full-time employees who handle the recruitment part of the company. Nearly 20 prospects are now signing college scholarships each year out of the PPI, and Collier sees no reason why the number cannot rise to 50 a year or even 100 a day.

He says Germany alone has over 200 American football clubs. His estimate of how many people play youth football across the EU?

“My guess is 20,000 kids,” he said.

To put PPI’s business opportunity in football, Collier suggests it’s only in the second quarter of a fantastic growth story.

“The first three years, we just laid the groundwork and made people believe,” he said. “Now people see the talent and they believe. If I can help change close to 100 children’s lives pretty much alone, can you imagine if I had a staff of 20 to 30 guys. It would be thousands of children we could help. ”

Sleep? It can wait.

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