ODESSA, Texas — The Permian Basin is known for its passionate love of high school football, packing stands on Friday nights and wearing team colors with pride.
On Saturdays, those same stadiums look a little different with less fans sporting the University of Texas Permian Basin orange.
"This is something that hasn't been done since this program started. Now you get a little bit more excitement," UTPB head football coach said during his signing day press conference.
The plan for this new regime is to cultivate the Falcon fandom by keeping local kids here in the Permian Basin. Coach Mac did just that by signing 11 local products in his first recruiting class.
We spoke to all 11 of these athletes to learn more about the new trend of staying home to play college football. They are excited and ready to put UT Permian Basin on the map.
"I think it's good keeping local talent in Odessa and knowing that there's really good athletes. It's going to be really nice to play with them," Seminole quarterback Blake Flowers said.
"I know that they're building something special with having local talent there and bringing more guys from all over the country, so I just wanted to be apart of it," Midland Christian safety Dawson Bullard said.
"There's a lot of talent here and I'm super glad to be apart of this upcoming UTPB team and I think this is where UTPB will be on the come up," McCamey athlete Matthew Rosas said.
"It feels like home away from home. I'm staying in Midland and still the atmosphere and the people in the community that support you," Midland Legacy O-Lineman Nigel Wallace said.
There are also a handful of players joining forces with their former teammates and Odessa High's Blane Mendoza convinced his fellow Broncho to become a Falcon.
"You can ask Jose [Guerrero]. I was on his butt trying to get him to go there with me cause I made the decision quite a bit before him but very exciting .A lot of people that I know," Mendoza said.
A couple things unite this group of 11. First, obviously, is the West Texas tie with athletes coming from all corners of the Basin. Second, the theme of "Family" that connects these players further.
"It was a dream come true. Just the fact that I get four more years to grow with my teammates and get brothers along the way. It's really cool," Permian linebacker Caysen Clinton said.
"It felt like a family. Like a home away from home. That's what I was looking for in a college," Guerrero said.
"They really made it feel like home there. My parents graduated from there too," Forsan kicker/punter Nolan Park said.
Chosen family is just the beginning for these guys. They also chose to stay home and play at UTPB in order to stay connected with family in the area.
"I'm also doing this for them. To go on and help family as much as I can, so they're really proud of me and it means a lot for them too," Legacy O-lineman Girevis Bobey said.
"I like that I get to stay with my family. My aunt. My uncle. My brothers. I get to stay with them. To take care of them whenever they need me," Permian wide receiver JaQuan Richardson said.
"I definitely like the idea of staying close to home and I don't want to put too much stress on my parents with college and stuff, so UTPB just felt like the perfect place to go, Wink wide receiver Jordan Tally said.
The beginning of McCullough's tenure has started with putting roots down in the community with hopes to get people excited about the Falcons and college football in the Basin. These 11 athletes are the foundation.