SMU may not have turned in a great season last year, even with limited expectations, but those days could be changing with a strong 2016 high school class locked up.

The beat appears to be moving on.

Henderson junior receiver Trestan Ebner announced late Wednesday evening that he verbally committed to the Mustangs program. He's the team's first Class of 2017 verbal commitment and chose the school in favor of another scholarship opportunity from Kansas.

Ebner (5-11, 175) became the third East Texas player to commit to SMU under head coach Chad Morris, who began his tenure about a year ago.

Former Waskom athlete Kevin Johnson signed with the Mustangs late in the spring as part of the program's 2015 class. Senior Van running back Aphonso Thomas flipped his commitment from Nerbaska to SMU last month and plans to officially sign with the team in February.

Ebner still has a year of high school football to play before he can sign a National Letter of Intent. He'll be on a mission to avenge a 7-3 Henderson that didn't result in a playoff berth.

Henderson won all five of its non-district games, but league losses to Carthage and Brownsboro ahead of a one-point defeat to Chapel Hill allowed Chapel Hill to take the fourth and final District 9-4A Division I playoff spot.

Ebner and company closed the year with a 30-10 victory against Kilgore -- the first-place finisher out of the district in spite of the loss.

The Mustangs finished their year 2-10 overall. SMU's administration probably pins most of the blame on the preceding coaching staff.

The former head coach, June Jones, guided the program to the Hawaii Bowl in 2012, only recorded five wins in 2013 and resigned after an 0-2 start in 2014. The 2014 team finished the year 1-11.

Morris, an Edgewood native and former Eustace High School and Elysian Fields High School head coach, hasn't had many problems stockpiling highly regarded in-state talent since taking the job. The problem is, it will take some time for those players to become competitive on the college level and firm up depth issues.

The 2016 Mustangs recruiting class is ranked by as the 59th best nationally. That's second best among the American Athletic Conference, 24 spots below Houston's 35th-ranked class off an 11-1 regular season, then a conference championship game win and a scheduled Peach Bowl appearance against Florida State later this month.

Among uncommitted juniors regionally, SMU has other standing offers out for John Tyler cornerback Javontavius Mosley, John Tyler quarterback Bryson Smith and Arp athlete Kayce Medlock.

Ebner, like all high school football prospects in their junior year, will become eligible to sign with any program that offers him in February, 2017.

2017 East Texas Football Players With Division I FBS Offers

  • Judah Bell, WR, Tyler Bishop Gorman, 6-3, 180 — offer from Houston (1)
  • Lagaryonn Carson, DE, Liberty-Eylau, 6-5, 261 — committed to Texas; additional offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Baylor, North Texas, Oklahoma, SMU, Tennessee, Texas A&M (9)
  • Trestan Ebner, WR/S, Henderson, 5-11, 180 – committed to SMU; additional offer from Kansas (2)
  • Montrell Estell, WR/S, Hooks, 6-2, 180 — offers from Kansas, Texas Tech (2)
  • Octavius Evans, WR, Center, 6-1, 186 — offers from Louisiana Tech, Texas Tech (2)
  • Kayce Medlock, RB, Arp, 5-10, 185 -- offer from SMU (1)
  • Damion Miller, WR, John Tyler, 6-2, 205 — committed to Texas; additional offers from Houston, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, SMU, Texas A&M, Texas Tech (8)
  • Javontavius Mosley, CB, John Tyler, 6-1, 170 — offer from SMU (1)
  • Bryson Smith, QB/ATH, John Tyler, 5-11, 165 — offer from SMU (1)
  • Major Tennison, TE, Bullard, 6-5, 240 — committed to Texas; additional offers from Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, SMU, Texas Tech (6)