It's been a while since Keontae Burns was in the news, but Pittsburg's sophomore receiver has his second scholarship offer and doubled up his lead on what is otherwise still a non-existent Class of 2019 within East Texas.

SMU began its hunt for Burns on Thursday and joins Southern Mississippi, which offered last June, in the early recruiting battle. Pittsburg head coach Brad Baca was the first to inform of the Mustangs program's interest.

Burns (6-3, 175) earned his first varsity letter this past season on a Pittsburg team that managed to make the playoffs out District 7-4A Division II with a 5-5 regular season record. The squad finished behind Gilmer, Pleasant Grove and Gladewater.

Gilmer ultimately reached the state semifinals, Pleasant Grove hit the regional semifinal level and Gladewater went two rounds deep while Burns and company met their end in the first round.

Pittsburg was somewhat in a rebuilding mode as it turned away from nine current college players from a 2015 squad that went two rounds in the Class 4A Division I state playoffs.

Burns caught 24 passes in 2016 -- mostly from sophomore quarterback Jaylon Jimmerson -- for a third-best 261 yards and a fourth-best three touchdowns. The two receiving yardage leaders in front of him will graduate in May, including recent Stephen F. Austin signee DeJour Dowell.

Burns recorded 43 tackles and two interceptions as a safety.

SMU will begin its 2017 campaign with aspirations of winning the American Athletic Conference after a 5-7 record last season under second-year head coach Chad Morris.

The Mustangs program earned just one win the season prior to Morris' arrival. For several cycles leading up to the disastrous year, SMU's recruiting classes featured more out-of-state prospects than Texas high school players.

Morris, an Edgewood native, successfully bridged the divide between SMU and frustrated in-state coaches. Through three recruiting cycles, he signed his first two out-of-state players in February.

SMU's roster this season will feature five players with East Texas roots in Ke'Mon Freeman (Liberty-Eylau), Kevin Johnson (Waskom), Kayce Medlock (Arp), Anthony Rhone (Texas High) and Aphonso Thomas (Van).

Morris hired former Gilmer head coach Jeff Traylor as his new running backs coach in February. Traylor spent the past two seasons under Charlie Strong at Texas and was not retained after Strong's firing.

Traylor played large roles in luring Nacogdoches defensive backs Brandon Jones and Josh Thompson, both the most-recruited local prospect in their respective classes, to Texas. Another three players followed through on commitments to Texas during or just after Traylor's tenure.

Morris and Traylor are currently maintaining a commitment made by current John Tyler junior linebacker Tre Allison in January.

Burns, like all college football prospects currently in their sophomore year of high school, will become eligible to sign with any school that offers him in February of 2019.

2019 East Texas Football Players With Division I FBS Offers

  • Keontae Burns, Pittsburg, WR, 6-3, 175 — offers from SMU, Southern Miss (2)

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