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Texas Rookies Enjoying being New Faces

By: Justin Felisko March 05, 2015 @ 06:00:00 PM

PUEBLO, Colo. – Bryan Titman stepped onto the dirt-covered floor of AT&T Stadium and sheepishly let his eyes wander all the way up to the 400 sections of seats that were high in the sky of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ mammoth football stadium.

There were still about 20 minutes until pre-event introductions before the Choctaw Casino Resort Iron Cowboy, powered by Kawasaki Strong, were about to take place and Titman had decided to wander out into the middle of the spacious stadium.

“When I first walked across there, I had the biggest butterflies. I was like, ‘Oh my, here it goes,’” Titman said. “I was trying to take it in right then, so later on when I was getting on it wouldn’t hit me.”

It was Titman’s first career appearance at Iron Cowboy, as it was for his fellow three Texas rookies Bonner Bolton (Odessa, Texas), Neil Holmes (Houston, Texas) and Cooper Davis (Jasper, Texas).

Titman (East Bernard, Texas), Holmes and Davis live within an hour or so of each other and had worked their way up to the Built Ford Tough Series level through the BlueDEF Velocity Tour and Touring Pro Division.

During the first two months of the season the three traveled together some.

“We are all from the same part of Texas, so we will rodeo with each other and make it convenient,” Holmes said.

Holmes is currently 46th in the world standings and did not qualify for the Fresno Invitational, while Titman and Davis are continuing to try and hold onto their respective spots on the BFTS.

Titman has had the most success so far on the BFTS in his first season, and is currently fourth in the rookie race behind Kaique Pacheco, David Mason and Bolton.

Bolton, another Texas native, has also started to become friends with Titman and company because of his time on the Velocity Tour with them.

All four Texas rookies highlight some of the fresh faces in the PBR this season.

“I am very thankful to be in this position,” Bolton said. “It is something that I worked at really hard at for a long time and have had set back after set back due to one thing or another.”

Bolton is the No. 23 bull rider in the world and went 2-for-3 at the BFTS event in Kansas City, Missouri, two weeks ago to earn 105 points toward the world standings.

Titman has only gone 3-for-11 on tour in four events, but the 26-year-old did earn 90 points toward the world standings in Kansas City thanks to his 87-point ride on Crazy Horse.

He also was the only rookie bull rider to advance to the second round of Iron Cowboy when he rode Strong Heart for 86.5 points.

Titman credited Davis for helping fix a mechanical flaw in his bull riding during the event in Kansas City.

“Last weekend, Cooper helped with dropping my free arm more,” Titman said.

Davis said that is one of the benefits of having similar faces from the BlueDEF Velocity Tour like Titman, Holmes and Bolton around.

The riders have someone they know to help them through their struggles, something Davis is far too aware of as he attempts to snap out of his 0-for-9 slump since making his season-debut in Anaheim, California.

“If we see something that we can help each other on, we are the first guy there to help,” Davis said. “You have a guy you can go and talk to whenever you need something.”

Before the recent winter weather struck Texas this month, Holmes and Titman were working out together at Sam Medlock’s.

“We all grew up down there,” Titman added. “We all watched each other ride. We all decided, heck, we are good enough. Let’s push each other to go and we all found a place to go this year and we just made it work.”

All four riders have benefitted from the new points system that puts an emphasis on giving riders that succeed on the BlueDEF Velocity Tour an opportunity to compete on the BFTS.

They are all within the Top 15 of the Velocity standings and are part of a new wave of bull riders looking to make a name for themselves on the BFTS.

Holmes, who needs to crack the Top 30 of the world standings to become eligible for the rookie title, says sometimes he wishes he could remain out of the spotlight, but cherishes the opportunity that comes with being a newcomer.

“It is good for the sport,” the 29-year-old said. “Some of these guys have been here for a while and you get guys like us. We are new to it. We bring that energy to it. We come here to prove a point. That pushes these older guys and lights a fire up under them to want to ride a little better.”

Davis – the youngest of the four Texas rookies at 20 years old – is used to the added attention after winning the 2013 PRCA Rookie of the Year crown.

“I don’t mind it,” Davis said. “If you are the guy they are looking at, it gives you something to show up and show out for. It doesn’t bother me being a new face. I have been in a few different situations where I am the new guy and I like it. I just need to stay here.”

Staying on tour is a goal that Titman, Davis and Bolton share, while Holmes has all intentions of making it back.

They also aspire to become the sixth Texas bull rider to win the PBR Rookie of the Year title.

“It would mean a lot,” Davis said. “It is a long season. If we win (one event) we are back in the hunt.”

Holmes added, “The season is very young and hopefully everyone can stay healthy and make it through the season. It will work itself out.”

Titman concluded that the main goal for the Texas rookies as a group is to see the rookie title stay in Texas for a second consecutive season after J.W. Harris won the 2014 crown.

However, they all know that they will first have to catch Pacheco. The Itatiba, Brazil, bull rider and standout 20-year-old leads Mason by 917.5 points and Bolton by 995 points.

“We are at the back of the pack, but we are fixing to swing for the fences,” Titman said.

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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