Vanguard Sports Group sets a new standard, unrivaled in the industry, by investing in their clients’ success


Today more than ever, professional athletes need a full complement of services and expertise to successfully guide them through each phase of their careers

Founded by veteran player agent, Joby Branion, Vanguard Sports Group is based upon the principle that agents have deep obligations to fulfill to their clients – to support, to guide, to counsel, and ultimately, to empower each individual throughout every phase of their careers. These obligations extend well beyond the traditional negotiation of contracts for a fee.

Vanguard Sports Group is the first and only full-service talent representation firm to provide a platform that blends a comprehensive range of extensive client services with the unparalleled experience of its seasoned professionals, which will allow it to execute on behalf of its clients with inimitable success. Vanguard identifies the unique needs and aspirations of every one of its sports and entertainment clients, helping each to fully leverage their potential on and off their respective field of play.

Vanguard Sports Group has set a new standard, unrivaled in the industry, by aggressively and proactively investing in its clients–ensuring that each will have the best opportunity to not only get drafted as highly as possible, but more importantly to seamlessly make the transitions from amateurs to professionals, from rookies to highly valued veterans, and ultimately from highly compensated performers to well adjusted retirees.


  • Four-year starter at defensive back for Duke University
  • Participated in the NFL Combine (1985)
  • Signed free agent contract with Washington Redskins
  • Earned law degree and MBA from UCLA (1995)
  • Worked with Leigh Steinberg (1996-2001)
  • Worked with nine NBA players (1998-2001)
  • First recruited client Ahman Green (1998)
  • First recruited 1st Round Pick Akili Smith (#3 overall, 1999)
  • Co-Founded Athletes First (2001)
  • Most recent Top-5 client Von Miller (#2 overall 2011)
  • Recent 1st round client Cordarrelle Patterson (2013)
  • Oldest active client Reggie Wayne (36)
  • Advised or represented 39 first round picks
  • Negotiated hundreds of career contracts


Vanguard Sports Group expertly guides and supports its clients throughout key career transitions with a complete range of essential client services


  • Career Consultation
  • Diversification and Transitional Networking
  • Former Player Mentoring
  • Continuing Education/Degree Completion and Technical Advising


  • Players
  • Coaches
  • Executives
  • Skill and Character Promotion
  • Disciplinary Appeal Representation
  • NFL Marketplace Expertise and Instruction
  • Contract Negotiation
  • Career Guidance


  • Off-Season Support and Relocation Assistance
  • Education Support
  • Medical Counseling
  • Physical & Mental Training
  • Nutritional Counseling
  • Philanthropic Development
  • PR/Media Consulting
  • Lifestyle Management & Travel Services


  • Branding
  • Creative Services
  • Marketing
  • Content Creation
  • Production
  • Live Events
  • Programming
  • Digital Media
  • Pro-Social/Cause Marketing
  • Brand Ambassador
  • Corporate Spokesperson
  • Public Relations


  • Performance & Life Coaching
  • Entrepreneurial Coaching
  • Management Consulting
  • Family Consultation
  • Executive Coaching


  • Financial Consultation
  • Venture Capital Funding
  • Financial Advisor Oversight
  • Credit Counseling & Repair
  • Insurance & Estate Planning
  • Legal Consultation Services
  • Oversight of Open Legal Matters
  • League Discipline Cases




Vanguard is the first, and only, full service talent representation firm to proactively utilize a comprehensive range of essential client services, and the tried experience of seasoned professionals, to execute on behalf of clients

VSG Football


Vanguard Sports Group portraits

Joby Branion, Founder and CEO

A Duke University scholarship football student athlete who graduated holding degrees in both political science and philosophy, Joby later earned a JD and MBA from UCLA. Joby’s call to advocacy began as a corporate lawyer for a prominent Los Angeles based entertainment firm, from which he was recruited away by a pioneering sports agency to launch his 18+ year career in athlete representation. Joby quickly rose to leadership roles in contract negotiations, NFL relations, research, procurement of marketing and endorsement deals, pre-draft training, talent acquisition and client maintenance. In 2001, Joby co-founded Athletes First and helped guide it to a #2 overall ranking for Most Valuable NFL Agency by Forbes in July 2014. Joby has worked with NFL, NBA, MLB and Olympic athletes. He’s even worked with four professional boxing champions.

Joby and his colleagues at Vanguard Sports Group have ventured out to set a new standard, unrivaled in the industry, by aggressively and proactively investing in their clients–ensuring that each will have the best opportunity to not only get drafted as highly as possible, but to also seamlessly transition into the pros, then from rookies to highly-valued veterans, and ultimately, from active players to well-adjusted “former” professional athletes.


Vanguard Sports Group portraits

Sean Howard, Director of Football Operations
310-683-3766 | sean@vanguardsports.com

Sean is a former UCLA scholarship linebacker who later earned his law degree from the University of Oregon School of Law. After two years working with a Los Angeles litigation firm, Sean re-connected with his football passion and spent five years working in the NFL front offices of the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers. Utilizing his unique experience inside the league, Sean became a NFLPA Certified Contract Advisor in 2005 and since has become one of the industry’s most well-respected agents. He has successfully represented multiple 1st round picks, negotiated millions of dollars of contracts, and has provided strategic professional/personal advocacy and marketing services to several elite professional athletes. Prior to Vanguard, Sean worked as an agent at Octagon and co-founded PRIME Athletes.


Vanguard Sports Group portraits

Brett Smith, Director of Operations

An attorney and NFLPA Certified Contract Advisor, in 2014 Brett helped Joby launch Vanguard Sports Group after working together in the business for nearly five years. Brett made the transition into the agent industry after completing his Master’s Degree in Sport Administration at the University of North Carolina, where he also worked in the UNC Athletics Department. Brett’s professional experience with the University of North Carolina, as well as his years working with Joby at Athletes First, has provided him with firsthand knowledge of the importance of a personal connection with clients, and his background gives him a strong skill set to represent athletes at every stage and within every facet of their career. No task is too large or small for Brett when it comes to helping clients.  Brett graduated from University of South Florida with a B.A. in Economics and later earned a law degree from the University of Tennessee.


Vanguard Sports Group portraits

John Guy, Director of Professional Development

John Guy has seen and done it all in the world of football. After 20 years of coaching at the collegiate level in the ACC and SEC, John made the jump to the NFL where he coached for five more years. John then transitioned into player personnel and quickly moved up the “ladder”, ultimately landing executive roles with the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills. John earned a B.S. from NC A&T, pursued graduate studies in Social Psychology at University of North Carolina, and in 2003 he was one of the first NFL front-office executives selected to complete the League’s Program for Managers at Stanford University. John helped recruit Joby to Duke in 1980.


Vanguard Sports Group portraits

Brandon Fricke, Assistant Director of Football Operations
530-228-3750 | brandon@vanguardsports.com

A graduate of Central Michigan University, where he played Quarterback for the Chippewas, Brandon also earned a Masters Degree in Management from Arizona State while beginning his career in the sports representation industry through an internship at Athletes First. Following ASU, Brandon joined Sean Howard at PRIME Athletes, and again with Vanguard Sports Group. Brandon is integrally involved in all aspects of client maintenance, client marketing, recruiting, contract research and negotiation.


Blake Stanton, Client Services

Blake is a graduate from the University of Oregon where he played wide receiver and majored in Crime, Law & Society. Having been a former Division I collegiate athlete, Blake has developed a distinct ability to relate to all athletes. Blake strives daily to make sure all of our clients needs are fulfilled, on and off the field. He also works to organize player marketing strategies and secure endorsement opportunities.



Keith Grunewald, Sr. VP Baseball Operations

Coming soon!


Trevor Kieboom, MLBPA Certified Agent

Coming soon!



Coming soon.



Marketing & Client Maintenance Associate

Tammie is a former collegiate basketball player from the University of Arkansas – Pine Bluff. After graduating with B.A. in political science, Tammie spent two years at a small sports agency getting some hands on experience with public relations, marketing and endorsements procurement and client maintenance. She is looking forward to continuing to increase her breadth and depth of knowledge within all of these areas while working at Vanguard.


Coming soon.



Dr. Robert M. Nideffer, Success & Performance Consulting

Dr. Nideffer has published over 100 professional articles and 20 books focusing on performing under pressure in the world of sports, corporate America, military and more.  He is known internationally for his practical experience and the creation of Enhanced Performance Systems. Dr. Nideffer received his Ph.D. in clinical and experimental psychology from Vanderbilt University and has taught at the University of Rochester, the California School of Professional Psychology, and at San Diego State University. Dr. Nideffer has worked together with Dr. Herb Martin for over 20 years.


Dr. Jethro Toomer, Success & Performance Consulting

Dr. Toomer is a world-renowned forensic and clinical psychologist. As a forensic psychologist, Dr. Toomer gained international notoriety with his evaluations of infamous serial killers Ted Bundy and Aileen Wuornos. Toomer, who specializes in appellate and death row cases, provides services for convicts and those who do not have the resources to acquire proper legal assistance. Clinical psychology is also a significant part of Toomer’s career. Employed by both the NFL and the NBA, Toomer works with athletes to make the transition from celebrity to civilian. Having worked for the NFL for nearly 20 years, Toomer assists players who have difficulties with life skills and substance abuse problems, as well as players with injuries and those who transition into retirement.




Lois Deloatch, Foundation and Charity Development

Lois Deloatch’s career spans more than two decades in the arts, philanthropy and community development. Lois has held administrative and leadership positions at UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University and North Carolina Central University. In 2013, Lois founded Northampton Partners, LLC, a consulting firm committed to supporting people and organizations seeking to make a positive impact through service and philanthropy. Currently, she works as major gifts officer for the Center for Responsible Lending, a national nonprofit working to promote fair financial practices.


Jordan Lohman, Event Planning and Management

Jordan is a graduate of Ball State University, and after spending one year as an Event Coordinator at San Diego State University she earned her Masters in Sports Administration from Western Kentucky. After a brief stint as an associate at Pacers Sports & Entertainment in Indianapolis, Jordan worked her way up the ranks at USA Football. She eventually became the Football Development Senior Coordinator where she oversaw the execution of hundreds of football camps, managed the licensed program FUNdamentals and Heads Up Football.



Vanguard Sports Group portraits

Kenneth Lewis, Director of Business & Legal Affairs
919-306-3766 | ken@vanguardsports.com

Ken is a business attorney at Nexsen Pruet in Raleigh, NC with nearly three decades of experience in a wide range of corporate, transactional, and securities matters. He represents clients in mergers, acquisitions, and sales of businesses, and in the formation of strategic alliances. His clients have included businesses in the financial services, technology, sports and entertainment, among many others. In 2010, Ken was a candidate in NC for the US Senate. Having almost 30 years of hands on experience with innumerable corporate, transactional, and securities matters, Ken offers a special legal insight into the analysis of business opportunities. He will provide the necessary perspective of a season transactional lawyer to the vetting of each and every business-related opportunity presented to Vanguard and its clients. Whether the opportunity is based in sports, entertainment, technology, real estate or anything else, Ken’s legal eye coupled with his business acumen will be invaluable. Ken earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School and his A.B. from Duke University where he was a classmate of Joby Branion.


Mike Dailey, Consultant 

In 1989 Michael started speaking on “Credit Freedom” and teaching the power of good credit. In 1992 Michael started working with various professional sports teams and by 1987 Michael was working with all the NFL teams and NFL Rookie Symposium. In 2000 he was invited to speak at the NBA Pre-Draft Symposium and several NBA teams. He since has expanded his Financial Education to include the NCAA, MLB, WNBA, NHL and several major entertainment agencies. In 2012 Michael Joined forces with “The Winston Group” and their “Pushing Excellence” educational foundation. In the last 30 years of financial education and banking Michael’s team have helped over 25,000 athletes, staff and individuals associated with his business clients. The goal for his financial seminars and education is to give the power of “Credit Freedom” to his attendees through the knowledge of basic credit skills, negotiating large ticket items and assistance in good decision making on protecting their assets. Michael has had an 18-year relationship with Joby Branion that has helped his clients with financial knowledge and assistance.


Vanguard Sports Group portraits

Andrew Kim, General Counsel

Andy is a trial lawyer and civil litigator whose practice focuses on general business and commercial disputes of all kinds. He counsels clients in all phases of pre-litigation and litigation matters with particular experience in large, complex business and other disputes. Andy has represented companies and individuals. In the entertainment context, he has represented studios, production companies, television networks, producers, directors, writers, actors, singers, composers, athletes, talent agents and business managers, among others. He earned his J.D. at Boston University Law School and his B.A. from Brown University. Andy and Joby met in 1993 at the same powerful Los Angeles law firm where they both began their legal careers, and since have maintained a strong professional and personal relationship.


Matthew Johnson, Ziffren Brittenham, LLP

Matt Johnson is the managing partner of Ziffren Brittenham LLP, considered the country’s premier entertainment law firm. Mr. Johnson has an extensive film and television practice, representing some of the biggest A-list personalities including Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, as well as many renowned directors and writers for film and television. He is a leader in structuring and negotiating ground-breaking transactions in the media and entertainment industries and has been instrumental in helping his clients develop important revenue sources, such as publishing, endorsements and merchandising opportunities.


Bryant McBride, Burst and Route 2 Digital

Bryant is a business builder. Since 2000, he has built seven start-ups all at the intersection of sports and technology. Bryant looks to build and invest in opportunities driven by growing markets and technologies that solve problems and unlock value. He has experience in building teams that produce products for the web, mobile, social, the cloud and TV. His teams and investors have been rewarded with successful exits to ESPN, The Active Network and Sports Illustrated/Time Warner. Bryant earned his MPA from Harvard and his B.A. from Trinity and currently serves as CEO to both Burst and to Route 2 Digital.



Edward Gomes, Director of Technology

Ed, also known by his childhood nickname “Veto,” grew up in Wareham, MA with Joby. After attending Boston University and graduating from Bridgewater State College with a B.S. in physics, Veto joined Joby in Durham, NC in search of their first real jobs together. Ed has never left and has risen to become Senior Associate Dean for Trinity College of Arts & Sciences Technology Services at Duke University. He is responsible for strategic technology planning, developing strategic alliances and relationships with peer academic institutions and large scale project planning and implementation.


Robert Wilson, C1 Marketing Group LLC

Rob Wilson is the President and founder of C1 Marketing Group, a full service public relations and marketing firm representing elite athletes and entertainers.  Through Mr. Wilson, C1 Marketing Group oversees proactive PR efforts, media training, crisis management and brand consulting for Vanguard Sports clients.