By: Katy Ralston (Reprinted with permission from The Battalion. photos: Jonny Green)
Texas A&M students brought a new meaning to the shot heard round the world. In this case it’s with a basketball.
Seniors Coby and Cory Cotton, both communication majors, Garrett Hilbert, a senior architecture major, Cody Jones, a senior finance and real estate major, Tyler Toney, a junior wildlife and fisheries major, and Sean Townsend, class of ’09 and a current Texas Tech graduate student, make up the basketball trick shot team Dude Perfect.
Dude Perfect has sensationalized the web, appeared on national news stations such as ABC and CBS, and was even featured on ESPN sports shows “Around the Horn,” “Sports Center Top 10,” “Sports Nation,” “First Take” and “Pardon the Interruption,” attention Toney said he never expected.
“Once we came out with the first video we didn’t expect anything to happen, and we definitely didn’t expect everything that has happened to the degree that it has,” Toney said.
Dude Perfect started as six college roommates betting each other sandwiches on scored baskets in their backyard. The group soon decided to capture their unconventional shots on camera. But it didn’t stop there.
After brainstorming and spending one afternoon at Toney’s ranch, Dude Perfect produced a ranch edition of basketball trick shots. With two of the members spending the summer as counselors at the Christian-based camp Sky Ranch, a summer camp edition was born. Posted on Youtube, the videos skyrocketed to success.
Their videos have made a splash, raised the roof, and gone the distance — literally.
The tricks include goals scored while wakeboarding on Styrofoam behind a four-wheeler, baskets made up and over rooftops, and swishing the world’s longest basketball shot from the third deck of Kyle Field.
Debate has been raging over the authenticity of the videos, but Dude Perfect’s philosophy has been “just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible.”
“We love it when people say it’s fake because it makes the shots seem even more ridiculously impossible; and we get more publicity and hits and YouTube so we love the mystery of knowing whether it’s real or fake,” Jones said.
The guys average 15 tries for each made basket, with some of the shots, such as the Cloud Shot on the Ranch edition and the Golf Cart Shot on the Summer Camp edition, being made on the first try.
The secret is all in the technique, said Toney, the shooter behind the Kyle Field shot.
“It’s actually more of football than basketball. I played quarterback in high school so I think that’s what helps more than any basketball skills I might have. Especially the long throws, that is pretty much all football throws, just with a basketball,” Toney said.
The Dude Perfect videos have so far drawn 3.3 million views, and the group has found a way to turn this unexpected attention into a golden opportunity.
“After the summer camp edition, we were like ‘listen what can we do’ because we are making money off of the hits we are getting. We have to do something with it, so we did our research, prayed about it and found Compassion International,” Jones said.
A Christian-based child advocacy organization focused in poverty-stricken nations, Compassion International provides health care, hygiene training, supplementary food and educational opportunities to each individually sponsored child.
For every 100,000 views of the summer camp edition the Dude Perfect team pledged to sponsor one child through Compassion International.
Dude Perfect’s ministry plans do not stop there. The group wants to have a more hands-on involvement with kids and sharing their faith with them.
“We want to take this fame, or whatever you want to call it, and use it for something other than ourselves. If you ask any of us we will tell you it’s not about us,” Toney said. “It’s about using this opportunity to show others that it doesn’t always have to be about you. There are plenty of ways to use what God has given you to do something other than glorify yourself.”
The team has even talked about starting their own organization.
“What we are really about is showing youth and parents that you don’t have to party and drink and go crazy all the time with your free time; you can build fellowship and have a blast doing it,” Jones said.
Dude Perfect has a few more tricks up their sleeve, with coming attractions in the works, including one shot from an airplane moving 65 mph, a celebrity edition with their recently expanded network of connections, and an East Coast/West Coast monument edition sinking shots around the coasts’ famous landmarks.
“Even though all of us are pretty much graduating this year, we still want it to last after college for a little bit,” Hilbert said. “We don’t really know how that is going to happen but with the direction we are wanting to take it, supporting kids and continuing this ministry in our lives, it’s definitely going to stick with me forever.”