Marshall’s Will Ulmer pursues music career after new NIL rules

Music is the language of the soul and Marshall offensive lineman Will Ulmer had to work a little harder to pursue his passion.

The redshirt senior is an old-school country music singer and songwriter but has been kept from pursuing a music career since becoming a college football player. Now, as athletes can begin to profit off their name, image and likeness, Ulmer is taking advantage.

On Thursday, he posted a photo of himself on stage, announcing that he is booking gigs under his own name. For the past few years, Ulmer was forced to use the stage name “Lucky Bill” because he couldn’t have a personal brand as a Marshall athlete.

“It’s a really big deal to me,” Ulmer told 247sports. “Obviously football is something that really means a lot to me, and I’ve been passionate about it my whole life, but so has music and I feel that football has always overshadowed it in a way. Now that I’m at the college level, music is something I’m passionate about and it’s not something that I’ve been able to fairly pursue. I just think this is big because it gives me the opportunity to use my name and my likeness to do something that I love and enjoy doing.”

Marshall Thundering Herd offensive lineman Will Ulmer
Will Ulmer used the stage name ‘Lucky Bill’ to play his country music songs.
Getty Images

According to Ulmer, he has had conversations with local restaurants, bars and music venues. On the first day of the new, lax restrictions, Ulmer even released a new single titled “Back Home Kinda Thing.”

“It’s the first day and it’s all sort of foreign and new, but potentially I’d be open to almost anything,” Ulmer said. “The important thing is that now we’re able to use our name, image and likeness I feel like we have to be very careful and very specific about what our brand is as an athlete. Anything that can be represented in a positive light, I’d like to be associated with it.”

Ulmer, who has been playing football at Marshall for six years, has reaped the rewards of being an athlete on scholarship, but has also dealt with restrictions that impeded his music career.

“Being on scholarship and being a student-athlete has tons and tons of benefits, but it does seem unfair [that I wasn’t allowed to profit from his music until now],” Ulmer said. “I didn’t think that because I play football I should have lesser opportunities off the field financially. Music is hard. It sort of rides that fine line because your sort of need to be able to use your own name to draw a crowd and gain some traction in the industry, but at the same time that directly goes against what the NCAA said. It was hard, but I’m just glad we’re past it now.”

Nonetheless, while Ulmer is embarking on a new path, football is still his first priority.

“Football’s got my heart. Football has always gotta come first. I’m going to have to go with playing at [Joan C. Edwards Stadium],” Ulmer said. “You only get so many of those Saturdays.”

Leave a Comment