In February, 2023, Sports Illustrated released a list of top 20 most influential black sports personalities in College Football and number 5 on that list was a name called Brandon Collier.
Brandon found his way to this list, due to his efforts in international recruiting, in which he has assisted over 150 students get D1 scholarships since 2017 through his company called PPI. However, most of these placements have come from athletes based in Europe and it is only recently that he decided to branch out to Africa.
Through PPI, Brandon has been able to impact hundreds of kids in Africa so far through camp activations and he plans on doing more on the continent. Afroballers had a chat with Brandon and the head of camp activations for Africa at PPI named Serigine, in order to discuss PPI’s program so far on the continent and the plans going forward.
Question: Give us an Overview of the Mission of PPI
Brandon: PPI started in late 2016, when I came to Europe (Frankfurt, Germany) to finish my career. Playing in Europe, I got approached by a lot of talents that kept asking if I could help them get to the US and I thought that this could be my second journey in life (Helping international students get to America).
I started doing camps in Europe to help develop and market international athletes. PPI started with Europe and now, we have expanded to Africa and Australia. The main objective is to give these kids the platform to showcase themselves.
Question: What was the Need to Pivot to Africa and Why Senegal First?
Brandon: Looking at the college football and American Football scene, a huge percentage of these players are black and this in itself is the reason for Africa. In 2019, I was talking to Ryan Day (Current Head Coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes) and he also acknowledged this fact and said he is finding a way to tap into the talent in Africa, as this is where most of the top kids come from.
In Africa, the impact that sports can make in the life of these kids and their families, is huge. Just by getting a scholarship, they get access to education from some of the best educational institutions globally and if they happen to make it to the professional level, that is life-changing.
We chose to go to Senegal first because a kid named Momo reached out to me on IG and we connected and we started working on him. He was eventually able to get a scholarship to Liberty College in the US but he was not able to get a Visa. He then pleaded that we come to Senegal to lobby the US embassy and see if we could help him get a Visa, and this was the main reason.
We decided to do a camp too and put up the registration for only 3 days and we had over 400 kids sign up for the camp.
Serigine: As the representative of PPI in Africa and specifically in Senegal, I was in charge of organizing camps to give these kids a platform to showcase themselves. What we saw from these kids during these camps made us say that we have to come back and also, expand this to other countries.
Question: Speaking of Expansion, What is this going to look like?
Brandon: In May, we plan on going to Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Cameroon and maybe Kenya to do some camps, and the goal is to find talents and translate them to American Football prospects. They really do not have to know the game, but just have the fundamentals to thrive in certain positions.
Serigine: For this expansion, we want to offer a lot of kids from Africa, the opportunity for a better education and to do something huge with the gift they got from God. Potential-wise, sports talents are huge in the West and so, that is why we want to start there and as time goes, we get it to other parts of Africa.
Question: Any Obstacles in Recruiting from Africa so far?
Brandon: The perception at first. Typically, people feel like there is an ulterior motive to things like this. But we will need to make them understand that we are doing this to impact these kids and enable them to be able to come back, make change and build infrastructure for the next generation of athletes to come out from Africa.
Also, the Visa process has been an issue. We are still trying to figure out how all that works, seeing as how MoMo was not able to get a Visa to enable him kickstart his career at Liberty University in the US.
Question: What are your Opinions on African Talents Closing the Talent Gaps at HBCU’s in America?
Brandon: It is a good point but the issue is with the developmental structure for these guys in HBCU’s.
Looking at the number of athletes that have made it to the league from HBCU’s, it is very limited and really, you want these athletes from Africa to have the best platform to showcase their talent because their reality is different from the reality of athletes born and raised in the US.
But I won’t be surprised, if in the next few years, these HBCU’s gradually start to close these gaps in structure.
Question: Any Plans for Leveraging the NIL in America for African Athletes?
Brandon: Yes. We are about to start a non-profit program to work with some companies in Africa to help some of these kids and also, help the companies grow on the back of the impact that these kids make.
Question: Any Preparatory Advice for Recruits Planning to Attend your Upcoming Camps in May and Beyond?
Brandon: Most of them do not have the proper football foundation, so I am not really looking at that. However, what I will be looking out for is their athletic ability, measurements, speed, explosion. I have certain tests that measure these.
Question: Any Potential Organisation Partnership in Africa that you are looking to Forge?
Brandon: PPI is open to partnership with any organization that is ready to do right by the kids, because they have to know that we are not charging these kids and if they help out, these kids will surely help grow the company. I do not want to show up in these countries and not have any local partner on ground.
Question: What is the Value of Scholarships gotten for the African Athletes that you have Worked with so far?
Brandon: So far we have been able to get scholarships for 3 kids from Africa and they are worth roughly $250,000 and we are hoping to do more. On top of that, they do not pay for food, housing and they get stipends.