Culture & Society

Aggies Bring The Spirit To Dallas To Celebrate With ESPN Films And Dude Perfect

Texas A&M showed up to support the Dallas International Film Festival and congratulate alums Dude Perfect on their “30 for 30” documentary.
By Lesley Henton, Texas A&M University Division of Marketing and Communications May 1, 2024

Dude Perfect on the DIFF red carpet with the Texas A&M Yell Leaders
Dude Perfect with the Texas A&M Yell Leaders.

Laura McKenzie/Texas A&M University Division of Marketing and Communications


The stars were out on the red carpet at the Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF) opening night last week, and by “stars” of course we mean Reveille X. But also the Texas A&M University Yell Leaders, ESPN’s Fernando Palomo, and the outrageously successful Aggies known worldwide as Dude Perfect.

Texas A&M was the opening night sponsor April 25 for DIFF’s 18th annual event, which over the course of a week is screening more than 100 documentary films from around globe. Opening night featured the world premiere of the ESPN Films “30 for 30” documentary “Dude Perfect: A Very Long Shot.”

“It’s a perfect night,” said DIFF CEO Beth Wilbins as she watched the red carpet procession outside the Majestic Theatre. “We were so excited when we saw that this film had been submitted to our festival. And then came Texas A&M, what a match made in heaven — a convergence of all things awesome!” She added that the festival, founded in 2006, celebrates film and filmmakers and provides a platform for storytellers and audiences to connect.

Texas A&M University Head Yell Leader Jake Carter stopped to chat in between photos on the red carpet. “It’s an incredible honor to be here and represent where Dude Perfect came from, Texas A&M University,” he said. “Being here with all this excitement, we’re just really happy we got to be a part of it.”

Also on hand was Texas A&M graduate and special guest of the university, ESPN commentator Fernando Palomo. “What a great opportunity to showcase the people who come out of A&M, what Aggieland brings, and that we’re always a family,” Palomo said. “These guys have been out of school a long time, but they are always part of the Aggie Family. And I speak for myself, too, it’s been 25 years since I graduated. Aggies never forget who we are and where we came from.”

Palomo addressed the audience inside the theater prior to the screening and, with the help of the Yell Leaders, showed those uninitiated in the crowd how Aggies use 12th Man towels, so the Dudes were welcomed to the stage with over 1,000 waving towels.

A ‘Very Long Shot’ Indeed

Four of the five Dudes — Cory Cotton, Garrett Hilbert, Cody Jones and Tyler Toney — were in attendance with their families for the evening’s events and sat in the audience while the film was screened.

The documentary chronicles the group’s rise from filming videos of basketball trick shots 15 years ago in their College Station backyard while students at Texas A&M, to what is today a $400 million enterprise including more than 60 million YouTube subscribers, billions of views, their own streaming channel, merchandise and live shows.


Dude Perfect with Reveille and her handlers on the DIFF red carpet
Reveille X with Dude Perfect and her handlers from Corps of Cadets Company E-2.

Abbey Santoro/Texas A&M University Division of Marketing and Communications


The “very long shot” in the title is a reference to their world record 855-foot basketball shot from the Stratosphere in Las Vegas in May 2023.

Following the screening, the four joined moderator James Faust, DIFF artistic director, for a panel discussion during which they were asked about Texas A&M’s impact on them.

Toney, the group’s frontman, responded saying A&M is “such a special place that you can’t really explain it, you have to go there. I remember going to my first football game down at A&M and seeing the tradition and camaraderie, and just something that the students have that you feel like you’re missing out on if you’re not part of. It’s kind of tough to put into words. We all absolutely loved our time there and are so proud of being from Texas A&M. We’ve had a great relationship with the school since then.”

The group recently visited the house in College Station where it all started; Toney said the experience was “surreal.”

Cory Cotton signs an autograph for six-year-old Nolan Smale
Six-year-old Nolan Smale and his father, John, getting autographs from “Dudes” Cory Cotton and Garrett Hilbert.

Abbey Santoro/Texas A&M University Division of Marketing and Communications


Among the evening’s youngest attendees was 6-year-old Nolan Smale, who came to the event with his father, John. Nolan said he loves Dude Perfect mainly because “they’re funny,” and he agreed they also make cool basketball shots. John said he and his Aggie wife lived in College Station while Dude Perfect was just getting its start on YouTube. “So it’s been fun watching them become so popular, being on ESPN and everywhere,” he said, “and now I get to watch them with my son.”

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