Jacksonville seemed to turn a corner last season and, with that, colleges are beginning to explore the school's talent base.

Senior tight end, H-back and linebacker Josh McDowell became the Indians' first NCAA Division I prospect in several years Tuesday thanks to a scholarship opportunity extended by FCS competitor Houston Baptist University. He reported to ETSN.fm that the Huskies program wants him to serve as a tight end or H-back at the next level.

McDowell (6-3, 210) was an imposing player on both sides of the ball for Jacksonville last season. He helped the squad to its first playoff appearance since 2012 and first winning season since 2010.

The team went 6-4 through the regular season with a last-minute win in its district finale and lost in the first round of the Class 5A Division II postseason.

Jacksonville's offense was dominated by now-graduated quarterback Cameron High last season. McDowell blocked for the Tyler Junior College dual-threat signee primarily from the tight end spot and sometimes from the backfield.

Defensively, McDowell was part of a unit that surrendered 31 points per game.

Houston Baptist has a program entering its fifth year of competition and fourth as a member of the Division I ranks. The 2016 season was the program's best to date and ended with a 4-7 record.

Head coach Vic Shealy is back for the 2017 campaign and owns an overall record of 11-29 as the Huskies' only head coach.

Shealy was Kansas' defensive coordinator prior to taking the Houston Baptist gig and also served as UNLV's defensive coordinator from 2005 to 2008. He previously earned head coaching experience with Azusa Pacific in the mid 1990s and left on the heels of an NAIA national championship in 1998 for the defensive backs coaching job at Air Force.

Houston Baptist will have two East Texans on its 2017 roster in former two-way Gilmer star Nicholas Smith and Lufkin receiver Kyler Henson.

Smith, a collegiate defensive back, should be on the roster for the next two seasons whereas Henson will exhaust eligibility after the year.

McDowell will become eligible to sign with any Division I program that offers him in December.

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