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The Dude Perfect Guys Before All The Fame

Of all the major sports brands, leagues, teams, and professional athletes—and the various media companies devoted to covering them—can you guess which one has the most YouTube subscribers? None of the above. Five regular guys from Texas have that honor, with over 10.5 million followers to date—roughly three million more than the NBA's channel. You know, the league that has LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant? Well, trick-shot artists Garrett Hilbert, Cody Jones, Tyler Toney, and twins Coby and Cory Cotton, a.k.a. Dude Perfect, have those megastars beat.

Dude Perfect is now so big that they have their own television show on CMT, are sponsored by major companies like NERF, Fiat, Pringles, and Bass Pro Shops, and own their own headquarters/clubhouse/trick-shot factory in Frisco, Texas. They've transformed themselves into one of the most successful brands to come from YouTube, but it all started as five college roommates hanging out in their backyard. 

Tyler Toney

Our story starts with the Bearded Guy, as he's known to fans. Dude Perfect specifically call him "their leader," but he seems to be their Steph Curry, their point guard. He's the dude on camera making the majority of the group's trick shots dating back to their very first video.

Born in Plano, Texas on March 24, 1989, Toney did most of his growing up in nearby Prosper, Texas. In the group's "About Us" video, Toney says, "Ever since I can remember, I grew up in the church. My earliest memories are being in church every Sunday, youth [group] every Wednesday, Awanas every Monday night." For those who don't know, Awana is an evangelical nonprofit organization. Toney also spent a lot of time on youth athletics, and his efforts paid off. He stands only 5'9", but played quarterback, developing a passing acumen that helps him make many basketball trick shots today.

After graduating high school, he started studying at Texas A&M and "looking for some other Christian guys to develop a relationship with. That was really the start of Dude Perfect." He already knew Garrett Hilbert from their high school basketball team. Pretty soon they met the twins and Cody Jones, who were looking for the same thing. They all moved into a house together and put a basketball hoop in the backyard.

When most college students aren't in class or studying, they're usually partying or exploring promiscuity. Since the Dudes were all devout, that kind of stuff didn't appeal to them and they needed to find other ways to spend their time. That's when they began betting sandwiches on whether or not one of them could sink outlandish basketball shots in their backyard. Toney sank a lot of them and they decided to shoot a video over two afternoons. Their first YouTube video, "Backyard Edition," was uploaded on April 8, 2009 and within a week it had over 100,000 views. Soon after, Good Morning America called for an interview. They were on to something and continued upping the ante with various challenges from Toney's home and a summer camp called Sky Ranch.

ESPN E:60 called the Dudes and wanted to do a segment. According to Jones, Toney had the idea to go big at Texas A&M's Kyle Field. He said in an interview, "We wanted to think of a cool idea and as me and Tyler were driving on A&M's campus, he looks over and I was like 'there's no way.' He was looking at Kyle Field. He told me that if I could get him the key to the stadium that he could get in there and make a shot."

That shot was from the stadium's third deck down to basketball hoop set on the football field's track. The basketball traveled 3.9 seconds, banked in the hoop, and was, to that point, billed as the world's longest successful basketball shot. Toney and Dude Perfect were on their way to Internet superstardom.

Along the way, Toney graduated from college with a degree in wildlife and fisheries, got a "real job" for awhile, and married Bethany Briscoe in 2011. Bethany is a former pageant queen, winning Miss Ouachita Baptist University in 2010, and now teaches third grade. On her Instagram, she describes herself as "a Jesus followin', Starbucks cravin', black lab obsessin' ... 28 year old kid at heart."

Garrett Hilbert

The Purple Hoser, as he's known to fans, was born in Texas on May 13, 1987. We're guessing he's called that since he gets really sunburned often? Anyway, his dad's job moved him to California during his early childhood. "I actually claim that I brought 'dude' to Texas," he says in their "About Us" video. At some point, he found his way back to Prosper, Texas before high school because that's where he met Tyler Toney on the basketball team. Just like Toney, Hilbert was brought up in a devout Christian family. He claims he didn't really understand what that meant, however, until sixth grade.

Hilbert went to Texas A&M as an architecture major, remained close with his high school teammate Toney, and found his way into the college house that brought them all together. He claims to be the one to have initially bet Toney that he couldn't make a particular trick shot. Twenty attempts later, Hilbert was buying him lunch. Maybe that's why he now does the finances for the group?

This redhead looks like he could be Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s twin. In 2011, he married a woman named Kristin and they have a baby boy together named Owen.

Coby and Cory Cotton

Coby is known as Twin #1 because he's one minute older than Cory, a.k.a. Twin #2. Born on July 17, 1987, they grew up in Woodlands Texas, which is a little north of Houston. Their father is a pastor, but they claim he never pressured them into believing in Christianity. They grew up playing basketball (of course), tennis, dodgeball, and ran cross country.

They seem to do pretty much everything together. They both went to Texas A&M as communications majors and kept seeing Toney and Hilbert at various Bible study groups on campus. Once the four bonded over sports and Jesus, it was inevitable they'd all move in together. The only thing they seem to differ on is that Cory loves milkshakes and Coby loves chocolate milk. Wow, they must get into some heavy debates on which dairy-based dessert drink is the best.

The twins came up with the Dude Perfect name, as Jones explained in an interview, "Our camera guy, Sean, set the camera down on a ledge. When he turned on the camera, Tyler was already in the frame and he just said 'dude, perfect' and said that he barely had to move the camera. When we went back to edit the video, we heard that the twins had the mindset to brand this and called it Dude Perfect."

Not only are they the marketing geniuses in the group, they also seem to be the technical guys. In fact, the main Dude Perfect YouTube url is Youtube.com/user/corycotton because he's the one who originally set it up. They carry on their tech skills today, being the point duo for the group's mobile game, website, and video editing.

After they graduated from college, they went to work for their father's church in Austin before Dude Perfect really took off. During that period, Cory wrote a book about the group called Go Big: Make Your Shot Count in the Connected World.

Cody Jones

Uh oh, here comes the bad boy of the group. (Keep in mind, it's all relative.) In the group's "About Us" video, Cody Jones says that towards the end of high school and the beginning of college, he strayed from the Lord. He focused more on basketball and girls. It sounds like he had a baller three months when he first got to Texas A&M, then felt guilty, stopped his evil ways, and prayed for forgiveness.

Born in Plano, Texas on October 9, 1987, Jones grew up going to church every Sunday with his family, like the other Dudes. In high school, he played for the school's basketball team and in 2005-06, they won Class 5A State Championship for boys' basketball. The Tall Guy, as he's known to fans, went to Texas A&M to study finance and real estate.

Once Jones got back on the straight and narrow, he met the twins while playing basketball at the university rec center, and they asked if he wanted to be the fifth roommate in their house. After graduating from school, Jones married his wife Allison and worked in commercial real estate until their viral videos became a full-time gig. And the rest, as they say, is history.