Life has been flush with obstacles for Dandy, but thanks in part to his single parent mother, Mrs. Eunice (who recently celebrated her 60th) at the helm, he learned to tackle them at a young age. With Tory’s father not around, his mother raised Tory and his three sisters in the small town of Woodruff, South Carolina. Even though that was probably one of the first and arguably biggest obstacles of his life, Tory won’t acknowledge it.
“I read and hear about a lot of young men that try to make their fathers a scapegoat of why they can’t be successful, but my mother never let me use that he wasn’t apart of my life as an excuse.” My mother worked two or three jobs. She worked hard, she sacrificed, and she was a praying mother.” Those certainly are important cornerstones of a solid foundation. Dandy credits his mother for his tireless work ethic and shaping him into the man he’s become. It’s hard not to respect a man that respects his mother, and that is the type of philosophy he still carries with him, today.
Family comes first in the Dandy household, and it was no different when Tory welcomed his daughter, Victorea into the world in his sophomore year of high school. Having never had a father figure as an example, Dandy was clueless in the ways of fatherhood, but he wanted to be a big part of his daughter’s life. Having a baby forced him to grow up quickly and learn in the moment. He attributes Victorea as his biggest motivation and inspiration in his life. She is now 19 years old and finishing up her freshman year at the University of South Carolina. “We have a beautiful relationship now. I know she looks up to me, and I got to make sure that she’s going to be taken care of long term.”
The balancing act of father and high school student is something that would be difficult for any young man. Dandy didn’t just have that on his plate, but was also a full time athlete. And he wasn’t just any athlete, but he was an All-Region WR/DB in football, All-State in track, and set a school record in the 100 and 400-meter hurdles. Dandy’s athletic achievements earned him a scholarship offer to play football at South Carolina St.
Entering South Carolina St., Dandy was coming off a rotator cuff surgery when the football season began. It wasn’t long before the injuries started to compound and hinder his availability on the field. He soon transferred to Tusculum College in Greeneville, TN, where he continued to play with pain through his junior year, and eventually decided to hang up the cleats his senior year. Dandy considers himself a realist and knew he wasn’t going to have a future as a pro athlete. He instead shifted his attention to his major in Business Management and minor in Sports Management. Even though he couldn’t make a living as a professional athlete, Tory knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. “I sunk myself into my academics and studied hard to make sure I was properly preparing for my future.”
Dandy went on to earn an MBA in 2004, during which, he realized what it was that he wanted to pursue as a profession…but not through the program, rather through a friend of his that was being recruited by NFL scouts. “I had no idea what an agent was.” Tory did however know that he found the agent’s job intriguing. “I wanted to know more, so my friend let me sit in on his meetings with him.” Eventually the agent signed Dandy’s friend. Synergy Sports, the company the agent represented, ended up giving Dandy an internship.
One year after his internship, Dandy was promoted to Director of Recruiting. Two years later in 2006, he landed a job as Director of Recruiting for Maximum Sports. It was there that Tory’s career really took off and he began working with what he now deems his “partner” and mentor, Eugene Parker. Says Dandy of Parker, “He’s a legend in the business and has negotiated record breaking contracts.”
He’s no doubt referring to some of the more iconic names Parker represented in Emmitt Smith, Deion Sanders, and Derrick Brooks. Parker and Dandy worked closely together, with Dandy sponging all he could. “It’s one thing to read a book or to lose contracts to other agents, but I have hands on continuing advice and mentorship from arguably the best to ever do it, so my tactics are going to be totally different from other guys.” In 2009 Tory Dandy, at the age of 29, helped recruit and represent the #3 overall pick in the draft, Tyson Jackson.
Four years later, in 2013, Tory took his newly acquired certification as an official NFLPA agent to where he currently is with Relativity Sports. He became one of the youngest African-American, certified NFL agents ever. Dandy would once again raise the bar in 2014 by representing the #4 overall pick in WR Sammy Watkins. In addition to Watkins, Dandy currently represents notable names such as, WR Alshon Jeffery, DL Tyson Jackson, and potential top 10 hopeful in the 2015 NFL draft, WR Kevin White.
Dandy credits his rapid ascension and sterling reputation to being genuine and trustworthy with his current clients, and potential clients. “I share everything about myself with my clients because I want them to know where I come from. Every client I sign has been to my hometown and has visited my family.” Dandy maintains that he is interested in his client’s long-term success and wants them and their families to know that they will be taken care of.
As a proud family man, Tory breathes that level of cohesion into his clients and only surrounds himself with quality individuals both on and off the field. “I don’t deal with a lot of high maintenance guys. I try to recruit great players, but also great people. I’m a family oriented guy and I want my clients to be family oriented. I want them to have respect for the fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, grandparents and kids. I want respectful young men. I don’t want the guys that are disloyal or disrespectful because I know we will not mesh well together.”
Dandy also distinguishes himself from other agents that might use, unethical tactics, or, unrealistic promises in the relationship building process. He prides himself in being the same person he was at the beginning of the recruiting process to how he will always be in the relationship. “If you go into recruiting a kid by basically lying to them or playing a yes man, I think their entire career you’re the yes man. That’s how you came off to them and that’s why they signed you, because you were a yes man.”
Tory also recognizes the human element. “If it comes to a time where I see them veering off to the left or the right, then they don’t have a problem with me giving them constructive criticism. I have earned their trust, I give it to them sincere, and they know I’m going to be straightforward…so there’s not a lot of friction there.”
“Once you get to that level, everyone has talent. It’s all about who’s goin’ work hard, who goin’ take care of their body. I also feel like it’s about your character and your integrity. How you’re going to treat people within the facility, locker room, and the community, goes a long way in sustaining your career as well.” Dandy acknowledges Larry Fitzgerald (WR, Cardinals), as a player that embodies all of the positive characteristics a young player should emulate, both on and off the field.
Sound like a guy you would want to deliver a message to your own kids? Well, he in fact does speak to kids at middle schools and high schools quite often. His main message in his speeches:
“Stay focused and finish! Anything you do, you have to first have faith in yourself. Believe in yourself. You can do anything you set your mind to. Along the road, you have obstacles, you have adversity, but you have to stay focused on the task at hand and whatever you try to accomplish, you have to stay focused on the task at hand. Whatever you trying to accomplish, you have to stay focused on that. Once you start out the race, finish the race. Don’t stop. Whatever you set your mind to, finish it. Young or old, that’s a great motto and a great slogan to live by.”
Each year Tory hosts a scholarship foundation community event, aimed at assisting underprivileged kids. It’s an event where they have games, activities, free food, free beverages, and free giveaways for the youth and adults. He also gives away 6 scholarships for high school seniors to go to college, and donates to 5 non-profit organizations. As an added bonus, certain NFL players are invited to come in and interact with the kids. This year he welcomed: Kelvin Benjamin (WR for the Panthers), Sammy Watkins (WR for the Bills), Alshon Jeffery (WR for the Bears), and Bruce Ellington (WR for the 49ers). “It’s important to give the kids the exposure to see that these athletes are real, and they can achieve their dreams if they work hard.”
From humble beginnings to the eve of the 2015 NFL draft, here’s to the following, elite draft class that Tory Dandy represents, realizing their dreams: Kevin White (WR West Virginia); Nelson Agholor (WR, USC); Jamison Crowder (WR-Duke); Paul Dawson (LB, TCU); Mike Davis (RB, South Carolina); T Eddie Goldman (DT, Florida State); and Ronald Darby (CB, Florida State).