SMU gained a verbal commitment from arguably East Texas' best pound-for-pound athlete Wednesday.

Arp athlete Kayce Medlock, who prefers to play running back and won the Offensive Most Valuable Player Award at the invite-only + APEC Football Recruiting Combine in May, announced via his personal Twitter account that he'll be going with the Mustangs program in favor of six other FBS Division I offers.

Army, Colorado, Louisiana-Lafayette, Navy, Tulane and UTSA were the other schools interested in obtaining the senior's services.

Medlock (5-10, 186) became the 14th local prospect in a field of 27 players with Division I FBS offers to commit and is technically SMU's first win inside the region. Henderson athlete Trestan Ebner initially committed to SMU, but he subsequently re-opened his recruitment and later pledged to TCU.

If the Mustangs are going to turn things around from back-to-back difficult seasons, local players could have a big say.

Former Liberty-Eylau athlete Ke'Mon Freeman and former Van running back Aphonso Thomas both signed with the program this past February. Later, Waskom athlete Chan Amie -- who won the Defensive Most Valuable Player Award after the 2014 Class 3A Division II state championship game and the Offensive Most Valuable Player Award after the 2015 3A Division II state championship game -- accepted an invitation to join SMU.

The Mustangs missed on every local prospect they recruited in 2015 and only earned one commitment from the area in 2014.

Head coach Chad Morris is about to begin his second season on the Hilltop in University Park. He guided the program to a 2-10 record last year, which was a one-win improvement from 2014 under June Jones and interim coach Tom Mason.

The Mustangs do have some history on their side.

Doak Walker won the Heisman Trophy in 1948 while the collective program won the 1935 national championship and has loose claims to the 1981 and 1982 titles as it worked its way to the NCAA death penalty in 1987. The death penalty retroactively punished SMU for paying its players earlier in the decade and forced SMU to cease football operations for the 1987 season.

The death penalty effectively stopped the 1988 season as well. SMU was not permitted to recruit in 1987, so its administration kept the program dormant on the field while building a brand new team.

A loss of 55 scholarships over four years once the program resumed, and depth-defficient teams incapable of establishing recruiting momentum as a result, kept the Mustangs program non-competitive until around 2006. The 2006 team came within a game of reaching a bowl appearance.

SMU has won two conference divisional titles since 2006 and reached bowl games in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 -- all under Jones  -- before its sharp decline to the present.

Medlock ran for 1,184 yards and 13 touchdowns during his junior year. He helped Arp come back from a 1-5 start to make the regional semifinal round of the 3A Division II playoffs toward a 7-6 final record.

Arp fell to Waskom in the postseason. Waskom, with Amie, also handed Arp a district loss during the regular season.

Medlock effectively began his senior season by running a 4.40-second, laser-timed 40-yard dash at the + APEC Football Recruiting Combine. He also leapt for a 31-inch vertical jump, traveled 112 inches in broad jump testing and put up 10 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press.

Arp will begin the 2016 season as a front runner for the District 9-3A Division II title in a league rounded out by Beckville, Elysian Fields, Harleton, Troup, Waskom and West Rusk. Medlock's team will enjoy 16 returning starters -- the most of any team in the group that qualified for the 3A Division II playoffs last year.

Medlock, like all football players beginning their senior year of high school, will become eligible to sign with any program that offers him on Feb. 1, 2017.

2017 East Texas Football Players With Division I FBS Offers

  • Tristan Allen, Atlanta, LB, 6-3, 206 — offer from Louisiana Tech, UTEP (2)
  • Judah Bell, Tyler Bishop Gorman, WR, 6-3, 180 — offers from Bowling Green, Coastal Carolina, Houston, Kansas, Memphis, Navy, New Mexico, North Texas, SMU, ULL, ULM, UTSA, Wyoming (13)
  • Noah Bush, Athens, LB, 6-1, 216 — offers from Air Force, Army (2)
  • Lagaryonn Carson, Liberty-Eylau, DE, 6-4, 261 — committed to Texas; additional offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Baylor, North Texas, Oklahoma, TCU, Tennessee, Texas A&M (9)
  • Terrell Cooper, Lindale, DE, 6-3, 240 — offers from Arkansas State, Memphis, Texas State (3)
  • Trestan Ebner, Henderson, WR, 5-11, 180 — committed to TCU; additional offers from Arizona State, Arkansas, Arkansas State, Colorado State, Houston, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi State, Missouri, North Texas, Ole Miss, SMU, Syracuse, UTSA, Texas A&M, Tulsa (18)
  • Montrell Estell, Hooks, WR/DB, 6-2, 180 — committed to Texas; additional offers from Alabama, Arizona State, Arkansas, Baylor, Kansas, Notre Dame, SMU, Texas A&M, Texas State, Texas Tech, Tulane (12)
  • Octavius Evans, Center, WR, 6-2, 186 — offers from Indiana, Louisiana Tech, Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas State, ULL (7)
  • Ted Fuller, Harleton, RB, 5-11, 195 — offers from ULM, Wyoming (2)
  • Tre Gatlin, Carthage, DE, 6-6, 210 —offer from Wyoming (1)
  • Austin Hawley, Gladewater, DB, 6-1, 200 — offer from ULM (1)
  • Kollin Hurt, Gilmer, DB, 6-3, 175 — committed to Louisiana Tech; additional offers from ULM, UTSA (3)
  • Jordan Johnson, Hooks, ATH, 6-0, 195 — committed to Air Force (1)
  • Kayce Medlock, Arp, ATH, 5-10, 186 — committed to SMU; additional offers from Army, Colorado, Navy, Tulane, ULL, UTSA (7)
  • Damion Miller, John Tyler, WR, 6-1, 189 — committed to Texas; additional offers from Baylor, Houston, Kansas, Missouri, North Texas, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, SMU, Texas A&M, Texas Tech (11)
  • LaMarcus Morton, Gilmer, WR, 6-2, 175 — committed to Oklahoma State; additional offers from Arkansas State, Colorado State, Houston, Indiana, Louisiana Tech, Memphis, New Mexico State, Texas Tech, Tulsa, ULL, ULM, UTSA (13)
  • Javontavius Mosley, John Tyler, CB, 6-1, 170 — committed to UTSA; additional offers from Arkansas State, Houston, Memphis, North Texas, SMU, Southern Miss, Texas State, ULL, ULM (10)
  • Cade Pearson, Texas High, QB, 6-3, 193 — committed to North Texas; additional offer from Wyoming (2)
  • Dhailon Phillips, Lufkin, WR, 6-3, 195 — offers from Air Force, Texas State (2)
  • Dez Robinson, Atlanta, LB, 6-3, 210 — offers from UTEP, Wyoming (2)  
  • Kordell Rodgers, Lufkin, QB/ATH, 5-10, 165 — committed to Texas State; additional offers from Arkansas State, ULM (3)
  • Makyle Sanders, Tyler Lee, S, 6-1, 177 — offers from Air Force, Memphis, Navy (3)
  • Bryson Smith, John Tyler, QB/ATH, 6-0, 170 — committed to Houston; additional offers from Air Force, Arkansas State, Bowling Green, Memphis, New Mexico, North Texas, Purdue, SMU, Southern Miss, Texas State, Tulane, Tulsa, ULL, ULM, UTSA (16)
  • D’Torian Smith, Tatum, LB, 6-3, 225 — offers from Air Force, ULM, UTEP (3)
  • Major Tennison, Bullard, TE, 6-6, 248 — offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Oregon, SMU, Texas, Texas Tech, UCLA (14)
  • Josh Thompson, Nacogdoches, CB, 6-0, 182 — committed to Texas; additional offers from Arkansas State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Houston, Indiana, Kansas, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, Minnesota, Missouri, North Texas, Ohio, Oklahoma State, SMU, TCU, Texas State, Texas Tech, Tulane, ULM, Utah, UTSA, Washington State, Wyoming (24)
  • Lakendrick VanZandt, Henderson, S, 6-1, 196 — committed to TCU; additional offers from Arkansas State, Houston, Memphis, Oklahoma State, SMU, TCU, Tulane, Tulsa (8)
  • Traveion Webster, Longview, S, 6-0, 197 — offer from ULM (1)