MARSHALL -- The Marshall Independent School District's board approved Claude Mathis as Marshall High School's head football coach and the district's director of athletics at large today in a special meeting.'s Mike Graham is in Marshall and will have more from Mathis later today.

Mathis joins the Mavericks after two seasons as SMU's running backs coach. In February, he became the program's director of high school relations and former Gilmer coach Jeff Traylor inherited the running backs coach job.

Marshall had been led by Clint Harper since 2013. Harper left in February to become the athletics director for the Duncanville Independent School District and is not expected to coach.

Mathis served as DeSoto High School's football coach from 2008 to 2014, but he technically served in two stints. This isn't his first time to leave the college game for a high school job.

Former University of Houston head coach Tony Levine hired Mathis away from DeSoto in January of 2012. Mathis returned to DeSoto in February of the same year, citing the Houston job was not a good fit for him and that his family was unhappy.

Fortunately, DeSoto had not made a replacement hire and wanted its coach back.

Mathis led DeSoto to a 74-18 record in his seven season as head coach. The school reached the Class 5A Division I state semifinals in 2012 and 2013, which were the school's best-ever finishes at that point.

At the time, 5A was the state's largest classification.

Both of the state semifinal seasons ended with losses to a Kyler Murray guided Allen program en route to state championships. In spite of the 2013 loss, DeSoto was regarded as the sixth-best team nationally in the USA Today end-of-season computer rankings.

DeSoto finally won a state championship this past season.

The Marshall gig will be Mathis' first in East Texas. He served as the head coach at Somerville High School in 2004 and was Austin Lyndon B. Johnson's leader from 2005 until accepting the DeSoto position.

Mathis, a native of Bartlett in Central Texas, got his coaching start in 1998 as the running backs coach at Anderson High School in Austin after an All-America career at Texas State and a training camp stint with the Minnesota Vikings. He rose to offensive coordinator in 2000 and remained at Anderson until leaving for Somerville.

Marshall struggled under Harper in 2016 after a trip to the 5A Division II regional quarterfinals the year beforehand. It went 1-3 in non-district play ahead of competing in a weak District 16-5A.

The Mavericks made the playoffs as the runner-up of their district behind undefeated Texas High, but every single playoff team out of the league was eliminated in the first round of the state playoffs.

District 16-5A could look quite a bit different this season.

While Marshall has hired Mathis, Hallsville and Texas High also made coaching changes after the 2016 campaign came to a close.

Hallsville hired Joe Drennon away from Mineola on the heels of winning the Class 3A Division I state championship. Drennon replaced David Plunk.

Texas High named Flower Mound Marcus coach Gerry Stanford its replacement for longtime coach Barry Norton. Norton left on his own to take over the Texarkana (Ark.) Arkansas High program about a mile across State Line Avenue.

Marshall won the 1990 Class 5A Division I state championship and made other title game appearances at the old Class 4A level in 2004 and 2005.

The Mavericks will open their season at home against Tyler Lee in Week 1. That game will pit Mathis directly against former Southlake Carroll offensive coordinator Clayton George.

En route to the state semifinals in 2012, and coincidentally played at SMU, Mathis' DeSoto squad stuffed Carroll from the 1-yard line with no time remaining in a state quarterfinal playoff game.

More From East Texas Sports Network