Zay Brown and Aaron Ochoa knew they’d always bleed red.
At the next level, they won’t even have to change a shade.
Two of Odessa High’s senior leaders found their right fit with Sul Ross State, and celebrated signing on to continue their football careers with the Lobos on Wednesday surrounded by family, friends, coaches and teammates in the OHS Fieldhouse.
Brown and Ochoa both found a lot to like down in Alpine, from the campus to the football program to, yes, even the familiar color scheme.
Plus, for two members of the Bronchos’ tight-knit graduating class, the best part of going, perhaps, is that the other will be there, too.
“It’s real special, honestly,” Ochoa said of sticking with his teammate at the college level.
Ochoa was a standout cornerback for the Bronchos, with Brown a standout at wide receiver. Both were part of a close senior group that survived ups, downs, a coaching change and a rebuilding effort during the last four years at Odessa High.
They’ve been together through everything else, so it only makes sense Ochoa and Brown attack the next level together, too.
“Me and Aaron knew this day was going to come,” Brown said, with a familiar, wide smile. “Since the season we were talking about probably going to the same place. We didn’t know if it was a for-sure thing, but we all knew, when we visited Sul Ross, that was a place to call home.”
Brown and Ochoa visited the campus together last week, and said they fit right away.
“It kind of clicked,” Ochoa said.
So Wednesday, they clicked their pens and put ink to paper to sign their letters, in a dream come true for both.
“I’ve been dreaming of playing in college since I was little,” Brown said. “I’ve always told my parents that I’ll have them next to me when I sign.”
Wednesday, they were there, and so were classmates Brown and Ochoa have shared their journey with for so long — and their head coach, Danny Servance, who joined the program two seasons ago and worked closely with players like Brown and Ochoa to change the culture around the football program on the west side.
“I think it’s a great fit for both of them,” Servance said of Brown and Ochoa signing together with Sul Ross.
Servance noted that he and his old teammate, Greg Anderson, both signed and went to Baylor together out of Permian.
“Those guys have played together for years, since they were in Pop Warner league,” he said of Brown and Ochoa. “It’s good to see those guys continue to have an opportunity to share in some of the triumphs that they’ll go through at the college level.
“It’s special,” he continued. “Those two guys did a great job for us the last two years that I’ve been here. They were leaders on our football team and contributed quite a bit to us trying to get this thing turned around.”
Now, Brown and Ochoa are set to continue their journey together, still together, and still sporting the same colors.
“I’m going to carry the red and white with me everywhere I go,” Brown said.