BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley welcomed its first head coach of its football program, and with that, the potential for new opportunities for local athletes.

ValleyCentral spoke with UTRGV head coach Travis Bush, who said the team is already in the building phase.

“Starting with hiring a staff, building facilities, recruiting a team and everything you have to buy like equipment,” Bush said. “There’s a lot of things that have to happen over the course of the next year before we get guys on campus.”

Bush expects to practice for a year with half as a team and then sign another recruiting class in 2025. The newly hired coach said they will begin by recruiting locally.

“You’re going to start recruiting across your street,” Bush said. “We’re going to recruit locally, and we’re going to start working our way up the great state of Texas.”

He believes the Valley is an area that is typically under-recruited because of its distance away from other universities, but he says the university will begin by recruiting “right at home first.”

Tino Villarreal, the athletic director of St. Joseph Academy in Brownsville, was at Las Ramblas to welcome Bush.

“For me, it means the world because our kids are going to get to see college football right here,” Villarreal said. “You don’t have to travel six, seven hours to go to Houston, Austin or San Antonio… Some games are going to be played in Brownsville, so a 10-minute drive and you get to watch Division I football. So it makes kids dream big.”

Villarreal said some of his students are already asking questions about when football will start and how to enroll.

“We should encourage our kids to always to look to play for our community for the Vaqueros before they look elsewhere,” Villarreal said. “If we put the Valley together, we can build an awesome team.”

Bush hopes to bring an exciting brand of football, integrating an air-raid system pioneered by the late coach Mike Leach who passed away on Monday. Beyond just an exciting product on the field, Bush is happy to be a part of a monumental moment for the university.

“I’ve been around here my entire life,” Bush said. “I’m excited to be back. It’s been fun to watch this place grow, and it’s going to continue to grow here. I’m excited to be a part of history.”