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CHARLOTTESVILLE — Growing up, D’Sean Perry always had a love of art. He spent free time drawing and painting as a youngster, got into ceramics in high school, and became a studio art major at Virginia.

Most recently, the UVA junior linebacker has been tackling digital art projects, computer designs and even a 3D printer project.

Now, Perry’s passion for art is intersecting with teammate Jack Camper’s new business venture, as both look to take advantage of college athletics’ new name, image and likeness opportunities.

Camper, a transfer defensive end from Michigan State, and two childhood friends from his native Virginia Beach, have launched College Cards NFTs, a company that helps college athletes mint non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, then sell them to the public.

“The NFT is open ended,” said Perry, who is one of the first Virginia teammates to connect with Camper’s new company. “It has unlimited freedom to do, honestly, whatever you want.”

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Camper, who transferred to UVA this spring to be closer to his family, but sat out practice while rehabbing an upper body injury, founded College Cards with David Scherrer, a former distance runner at Brown and Boston College, and Jacob Boynewicz, a former lacrosse player at the Milwaukee School of Engineering.

“A lot of trust between the three of us,” said Scherrer. “We go way back.”

The trio — Scherrer and Boynewicz met Camper in English class as seventh graders at Great Neck Middle School in Virginia Beach and are, first and foremost, “fishing buddies” — began work on the new venture in September, and, last month, began the process of onboarding the first athlete customers.

“David came to me one day and said, ‘Do you want to talk about taking NIL and combining it with NFTs and seeing if we can do something with college athletes?’” said Camper, who has two seasons of eligibility remaining. “I said, ‘Absolutely.’”

Scherrer has been into crypto mining — verifying Bitcoin transactions — since his freshman year at Brown, and Camper said Scherrer and Boynewicz did all the coding for College Cards, building the infrastructure from “the ground up.”

“I knew other college athletes were also interested in crypto, and young people in general,” Scherrer said. “We weren’t seeing any companies leverage the true power of blockchain technology. Blockchains empower the users to own the content.”

The group’s vision was to create a “student-athlete centered” opportunity where people could benefit from their status as college athletes in a more personal way than simply licensing their likeness to a third party that created and owned the content, Scherrer said.

They’ve been in contact with over 100 athletes, starting mostly in their familiar circles at Boston College, Michigan State and, now, UVA.

“We don’t really see anybody doing what we’re doing,” said Camper. “The athlete owns, sells and receives 87½% of the sale. We gave them the ability to create their own NFTs so it creates a unique experience for the person that’s actually buying it. It’s more player-run. There’s more of a relationship within the sale, so it’s more personalized.”

The NFTs themselves are digital tokens, images of the athletes’ choosing. College Cards only real restrictions are that each athlete do a limited edition, gold-framed token. Only 10 of those are minted, to allow the NFT to have value because of its scarcity.

After that, an athlete can decide how many silver framed NFTs they want to mint and sell.

Perry and running back Perris Jones are two of the first UVA teammates Camper has been working with, guiding them through what he described as a “really easy” 15-20 onboarding process, that includes setting up a digital wallet so money from the NFT sales can go directly to the athletes.

As for his NFT design itself, Perry wasn’t ready to reveal his plans. He said he’s got a few ideas he’s toying with, and he’s not confining himself to sports-related art for his token.

“Without saying too much, it’ll be a project of my personal interests,” said Perry. “It’s going to display my creativity.”

mbarber@timesdispatch.com

Twitter: @RTD_MikeBarber

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