ARP, Texas — As you drive east down Highway 64 in East Texas past Tyler, the setting for life in the Piney Woods immediately overcomes you.
On a two-lane road that extends through the town of Chapel Hill, you'll see small corner stores fronting large pieces of land with a variety of livestock and towering pine trees that enclose the road at times with their hearty leaves all while the occasional Ford F-150 zooms by you, shaking the ground beneath you.
The further you go down Highway 64, you'll run into the small town of Arp.
A city that was once bluntly named "Strawberry" for its abundance of strawberry farms, Arp's 2.5 square miles have mostly been home to hard-working blue-collar East Texans for the last century. The community prides itself on holding their hats on helping each other, all 892 of each other.
Enter Dallas Cowboys rookie linebacker DeMarvion Overshown.
The oldest brother of four siblings, Overshown grew up in the small town with his mother, Felecia Williams, as his sole parent and guardian on a property that's been in the family for as long as anybody who has ever lived there can remember. Its rustic setting pairs with two small houses that generations of Williamses and Overshowns have lived in.
"To my knowledge, I know it's been here 43 years because that's how old I am," Williams said. "But my mom is 60-plus, and it's been here since she was here. It's been here a long time."
For Williams, the property helps to remind her of Overshown's youth and his selfless personality that helped to lift anyone around him up – much like his community – even well before touching a football field.
"He was a good kid all-around," she said. "The best trait about him, he was very protective. At the time, his father was out of his life and out of the home, he was the man."
"I worked at the school for ten years but I didn't bring home a lot of money," she said. "Raising four kids, it was hard. He took on a responsibility and got a job to help me catch up on a lot of things before he went back to school. Him still being a kid, he didn't have to do that, but he did."
While DeMarvion Overshown had high aspirations from the time he was a child, even he could not have clearly envisioned the success he would have in his hometown, from being a light to his own household to being a household name on the football field.
The inspiration was derived from his mother who he saw sacrifice more than he felt he ever could.
"At a young age, I had seen my momma come home with her feet hurting, hands hurting working two or three jobs a day just to make sure me and my family had enough," Overshown said. "We stayed with my grandma for most of my life, but we knew that mom was getting up and finding a way. So when I was able to help in any way, I wanted to do that. I look up to my mom, she's my hero."
On the eve of leaving his hometown for his first training camp as a rookie in the NFL, Overshown paid a visit to his old high school stadium in Arp where the hallowed light green turf remains home to his early accomplishments forever.
"I always envisioned playing D1 football, but coming from here, it was something that you had never really seen in person," he said. "You didn't know what it was like getting the Urban Meyers, the Nick Sabans to come through and scout players. It was always just a dream."
The dream was lived out in his junior season of high school, as Saban, Meyer, Dabo Swinney and more made the trip to the home of the Arp Tigers to see him in action.
"Right around the 15-to-10 yard line on that opposite hash is where my career blew up," Overshown recalls as he points to the opposite sideline.
"We were playing Hughes Springs, and going into halftime they're running four verticals and I'm playing safety. I was the one that was like 'you're gonna throw this on me, I gotta make you pay for it so you never throw it again.'"
The unsuspecting East Texas receiver came across the middle — expecting to make a big play in opponent territory — only for Overshown to lay a huge hit on him that rocked the entire town forever.
"I have it on my junior highlight film, it's the first play," he said. "You can see people in the background running, screaming. The hit was so hard that I hurt myself, the dude's knee literally kneed me in my stomach."
Even though that hit sidelined Overshown for the rest of the game, it changed every game he played from there on out.
The next day, Overshown landed his first offer. Just a few months later, he had offers from just about every big-name school in the country.
"I'm talking about leaving class every day in fourth period in the second semester and getting like three offers a day," he said about his quick rise. "I remember one day before a basketball game getting offers from LSU, A&M and Mississippi State all in the same day. I was so overwhelmed that I actually cried. It was happening so fast. I was full of excitement but at the same time I was nervous. I come from a small town."
As a native Texan that took pride in his roots, Overshown's one dream was to play for the Texas Longhorns and then get drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.
When the first step of that dream sat on his table as an opportunity, he jumped at the chance to capture his first real shot at destiny.
"I always knew it was gonna be Texas," he said. "I always said that if I got an offer from Texas, no matter what, I was going to Texas."
From there, he went from local legend to budding college star in his first two years in Austin. Then, adversity struck again for his family during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
As a result, Overshown put his football development on pause and briefly moved back home to help support his family.
"I was working at Brookshires, I wasn't making top dollar, but it was enough to get us through those tough times," Overshown said. "I had a lot of support that helped me get through those times. If it happened again, it was something I'd do all over again."
Shortly after, Overshown was able to return to Texas where he earned an All-Big 12 honor in 2022 before becoming a third-round draft pick to Dallas, fulfilling his own destiny that he dreamed of at the beginning of his journey.
"None of this happened overnight, I went through pain and struggles," he said. "It wasn't a piece of cake and you're gonna go through things to get that. When you say destiny, faith and family, all of that tied into getting me here today."
DallasCowboys.com gets an inside look at the life of rookie linebacker DeMarvion Overshown in his hometown of Arp, Texas just hours before his departure for training camp.
While the hot summer sun and humid air fill the home of the Arp Tigers, Overshown is met by surprise by his old defensive coordinator who's hitting the field to help train his son who is a promising Arp athlete in his own right.
"One day, he's gonna be doing the same thing I'm doing, Coach! He looking big," Overshown shouts across the bleachers.
His community always saw him as a celebrity, but it's on a different level when that fame stretches beyond the Piney Woods.
When his lifted lime green Silverado is spotted around town, small crowds gather to check in on him and to share an old memory from his childhood.
For him, it's a testament to what he's accomplished to this point, but also for what he wants in his future for both himself and his large support system.
"I just retired my mom a couple of months ago," Overshown said with a smile. "When I say that I got drafted, everybody got drafted, that's what I meant. I'm taking that upon myself to where [my family] can be set off on their own. I want this to be generational."
On the eve of the beginning of his newest journey, reminiscing definitely persists, but locking in on what's still left to be done prevails.
"My next thing, I want to not just play for Dallas, but I want to be the reason why Dallas hoists a Super Bowl trophy," he said. "I just started writing down my goals and discussing them, and my game has taken a huge leap. I'm gonna go make a name for myself."
In it all, the journey will always have the backbone of where it started.
"This is something I'll never take for granted. I want to be that light for everybody."