Go big — billboard big — or go home.
Such was the belief for one Georgia teen, Bear McWhorter, and his dad, Josh McWhorter, who decided to seek out the attention of University of Arkansas’ Razorbacks’ football head coach Sam Pittman with a billboard on I-49 South towards Fayetteville, Arkansas, declaring: “Coach Pittman, I want to be a Hog.”
The message signifies Bear’s dream to one day play on Pittman’s team.
At only 13, Bear has a ways to go before it’s time to apply to college, though he’s been a devoted tackle football player since the age of 6, McWhorter told FOX News of his son.
Bear is entering the eighth grade at Cass Middle School in Bartow County, Georgia. McWhorter, a former left guard at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, is the offensive coordinator at Cass, on top of his day job as the CEO of McWhorter Capital Partners (MCP), which focuses on outdoor advertising.
Bear McWhorter, 13, (right) recently put up a billboard to get the attention of University of Arkansas’ Razorbacks’ football head coach Sam Pittman (left). (Courtesy of Josh McWhorter)
The idea to hang the eye-grabbing billboard was “really a test of sorts” McWhorter told Fox News.
“After taking the job at Cass High, my number one goal was to get these young men to college. The game of football has done so much for me,” he said, particularly referencing the sport paying for his tuition at Furman. “I felt if I could help get another one of our student athletes in school, they could ultimately create a better life for them and their families.”
McWhorter said he often sees young athletes tagging their favorite colleges and coaches on highlight tapes and even their report cards to capture attention and seemingly gain an invite or opportunity to play for their dream school.
So, as McWhorter started brainstorming how he could make his high school football players stand out, the idea of launching an outdoor campaign naturally came to mind given his work experience, he said.
“I’ve never seen a high school athlete use out of home (OOH) [advertising] to reach their intended audience,” he added. “Not knowing how this might be taken and having no data to back it up, I used my son, Bear, to test my hypothesis.”
The billboard, which McWhorter put up on I-49, says: “Coach Pittman, I want to be a Hog.” (Courtesy of Jourdan Black)
“Since he is a member of the class of 2026, I felt if this went the wrong way, I wouldn’t hurt anyone but him and he had enough time to make up any negative backlash,” added McWhorter. “He went to nine different school’s camps this past summer, so I asked him, based on those camps, where would you go today? He said, ‘Arkansas,’ and the rest is history.”
With some 50,000 cars a day, per McWhorter, the 480-square-foot billboard twinkling with LED lights is certainly getting plenty of attention, and the family never dreamed just how big this billboarding stunt would get.
For Bear, though, the fanfare isn’t exactly getting to his head. “I asked him the other night about a story that popped online about [the billboard] and his answer was, ‘Cool. What’s for dinner?’” McWhorter shared.
McWhorter, pictured with his family, has been a devoted tackle football player since around six. (Courtesy of Josh McWhorter)
McWhorter said Bear remains focused and dedicated to being the best person he can be.
“Bear and I talk all the time about our faith, life, and football,” he added. “We have a saying we often use of, ‘Control the controllables.’”
“Coach Pittman may end up offering him a scholarship one day, he might not,” he added. “Some other coach may look at Bear and want him. Every coach might look at him and say, ‘No, thanks.’ At the end of the day, all he can do is control what he can control — his academics, his training, and how hard he does both.”
McWhorter said they’ve already got some additional 600-square-foot billboards lined up for Bear’s high school teammates.
“I appreciate Coach Gates, our head coach, for allowing me to run with this,” he said.