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Peyton Houston is like any other 15-year-old. He’s a sports junkie who will find any reason to turn on college baseball and plays popular video games like Fortnite and Call of Duty with his friends.

Usually, the freshman quarterback at Shreveport’s (La.) Evangel Christian Academy is a little busy traveling the country attending training camps and solidifying his status as one of the best high school quarterbacks in the Class of 2027.

To add on to his busy schedule, he’s just become one of the youngest athletes in the country to sign a five-year name, image and likeness deal with The Colony-based Leaf Trading Cards. He will have a trading card as part of the company’s ‘NextGen’ collection which will be on sale in a few weeks for $70.


Leaf declined to share how much the deal is worth. But other high schoolers earn between thousands and millions of dollars. But age doesn’t limit the amount someone can earn on an NIL deal. Nike recently signed 13-year-old soccer star McKenna “Mak” Whitham to her own NIL deal estimated to be valued at over a $1 million.

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“I’m feeling pretty good. I just thank God for everything that I’ve been given and my parents for supporting me through everything,” Houston said. “This helps us with traveling and getting around the country easier. Plus, I can finally help my parents and if I want something, I don’t have to go directly through them.”


Houston, a potential college star within a couple of years, isn’t going on this journey alone.

He’s accompanied by his mother and father, Naomi and Shaun Houston, and has become the latest signee to Minneapolis-based sports representation agency, The Institute for Athletes.

He’s in good company as the IFA also represents 25 NFL players such as Washington Commanders defensive end Jonathan Allen, Carolina Panthers receiver Adam Thielen and Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Rachaad White.


The IFA and Lionheart Sports Agency brokered the deal between Houston and Leaf.

Getting in early on high school talent like Houston will become an important path forward for The Colony-based company as it competes with other larger trading card companies like Jacksonville, Fla.-based Fanatics and local rival Irving-based Panini America.

“This deal helps everybody. The family gets taken care of, the agency gets their cut and we’ve got a deal that makes perfect sense,” said Josh Pankow, president of Leaf. “I’m certain we’ve done more deals with more high school quarterbacks than anyone else and we’re going to keep doing it.”

15-yea-old quarterback Peyton Houston pictured at Leaf Trading Cards headquarters, Thursday,...
15-yea-old quarterback Peyton Houston pictured at Leaf Trading Cards headquarters, Thursday, May 16, 2024, in The Colony, Texas.(Elías Valverde II / Staff Photographer)

Who is Peyton Houston?

Houston can adapt to just about any situation in front of him.

Whether it’s an oncoming blitz or reading coverages, his combination of quick feet and thinking paired with a powerful and precise arm make him one of high school football’s most electrifying quarterbacks. His mother, Naomi, has been watching his game evolve since he picked up flag football at the age of 3.

It’s become clear to her that all anyone needs to do is get the ball in Houston’s hands to make magic happen, she said.


“Don’t put any kind of restrictions on him. Just give him the football and just watch,” she said. “He’s a confident player, and he’s like that all day long. It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. I only wish I started recording his games sooner.”

The 5-10 185-pound quarterback has caught the eyes of more than just trading card companies.

He’s already received official offers from Texas schools such as Texas Christian University, Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, Houston University and Southern Methodist University.


He’s also received an offer from Deion Sanders’ University of Colorado, University of Mississippi, Louisiana Tech University, Purdue University, Grambling State University, Mississippi State University, University of Arkansas and the University of Pittsburgh.

Though Houston already has the eyes of national college scouts all over him, the deal with Leaf only serves to increase his name recognition and validate his name to those not already familiar with him, said Peyton’s father, Shaun.

“The bigger thing that’s going to come out of all of this is that it extends that he’s on. And he’s got an opportunity to understand all the things that go into an opportunity like this,” he said. “I know everyone says it but we could have never crafted this. God’s blessing has gifted us tremendously, and I give him all the glory.”

The same week he received the multi-year deal from Leaf was the same week Houston began to think further into the future. During a media class, he designed a logo for his personal brand, which he named Phorever Glory. As his popularity grows, he hopes to have more chances to use Phorever Glory, he said.


“Part of the lesson in that class was that we had to create our own business and when I got home and told my family, they told me the first thing I had to do was come up with a name,” Houston said. “I wouldn’t be where I am right now if it wasn’t for him, so I’m forever giving love to him.”

Naomi Houston (left) and Shaun Houston react after their  son Peyton Houston opened a...
Naomi Houston (left) and Shaun Houston react after their son Peyton Houston opened a trading card box with an autographed card by Brazilian soccer player Neymar at Leaf Trading Cards headquarters, Thursday, May 16, 2024, in The Colony, Texas.(Elías Valverde II / Staff Photographer)

How does the deal work?

The floodgates for NIL deals opened up in 2021 when the Supreme Court sided with college athletes as it upheld a district ruling that said the NCAA was limiting compensation for its athletes. The NCAA quickly abandoned its longstanding embargo on NIL deals and student-athletes were free to make money through avenues like video games, endorsements and more.


Since 2021, 31 out of 50 states allow all student-athletes, including high schoolers, to sign NIL deals. Texas, however, is not one of those states. But with Houston being an athlete in Louisiana, he’s not held to the same restrictions as athletes playing in Texas.

Still, the deal comes with a few restrictions. Currently, NIL deals cannot have any incentive-based bonuses attached to them. This means that no matter how many touchdowns Houston throws in his upcoming sophomore season, he will earn the same amount of money.

But Leaf plans on making cards with him for a long time to come, Leaf’s president Pankow said.


The company makes each card to order, and customers can choose whether or not to have Houston’s autograph on the card for a higher price. Houston has already hand-signed hundreds of cards in preparation for a big demand for his card.

“We will make new cards of him every month. We’ll do web-exclusive cards where we follow his high school games and if he has a crazy 500-yard game, we’ll do a card commemorating that on our site,” Pankow said. “Those will be sold at a higher price just because we want to make sure the value of the card stays high.”

In the deal, Houston may also have the opportunity to sign memorabilia. But with Leaf being a trading card company first, it’s likely that portion won’t come into play unless both sides can find a good reason for it.

15-year-old Peyton Houston listens to Leaf Trading Cards CEO Kevin O'Neil as they tour Leaf...
15-year-old Peyton Houston listens to Leaf Trading Cards CEO Kevin O’Neil as they tour Leaf Trading Cards headquarters, Thursday, May 16, 2024, in The Colony, Texas. Houston signed a multi-year NIL deal with Leaf.(Elías Valverde II / Staff Photographer)

What’s next for Houston?

With his deal with the IFA, Houston can focus on the field.

“NIL is an absolute cluster,” Pankow said. “We got approached by three or four people with Peyton. It’s especially helpful when there’s an agency we can just speak directly with. Sometimes families will cut them out because they want to do it on their own. But that’s a huge mistake. That’s why it’s so important for him to have representation at such a young age.”


The NIL deal also gives Houston the chance to boost not only his own profile, but the people closest to him including his teammates and his local community, said Doug Terfehr, president and chief marketing officer for the IFA.

“It’s really not about the transaction,” he said. “What it’s about at this stage now is that he can let people know a little bit more about who he is, what’s important to him, how does he want to give back to his community? What story does he want to share? Who is the teammate he wants to build up? It’s enabling him to use his name for good.”

Houston’s deal will provide him and his family what he needs and then some to fully pursue what it takes to make it to college game days on Saturdays and perhaps one day, playing in front of tens of thousands in packed NFL stadiums.

In the meantime, between attending training camps and college tours, fending off random endorsement offers in his Instagram direct messages, maintaining his perfect GPA and beating his father in Madden, he’ll likely look to splurge a bit on some gear for next season with his Texas trading card earnings.


“Man, I think he loves cleats more than he loves actual shoes,” said Houston’s father. “Cleats get costly but this lightens the load on our pockets. Now we can also start thinking about transportation. He’s still got to get his driver’s license after all.”

Houston and Evangel Christian Academy will kick off their 2024 season hosting Neville High School on Sept. 6 in a nonconference game.

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