Has Deion Sanders and Jackson State become the face of HBCU football?
By: Kurtis Alston
Deion Sanders became Jackson State University’s 21st Football Coach on September 21, 2020. On February 21, 2021, he led the Tigers to a 53-0 victory. With Sanders at the front of this train, he and his staff brought nationwide attention to the school.
In the Fall of 2021, Sanders led the Tigers back to championship shape, winning a school record of 11 games; in those 11, they went 8-0 in the conference, helping them win the Southwestern Athletic Conference Football. This is the team’s first conference title since 2007. The 11-0 record gave Jackson State an automatic Celebration Bowl berth, the first ever in school history.
The school set records on the field and an FCS attendance record in the fall of 2021, averaging more than 42,000 fans per home game. Deion does have two sons that play on the team, Shedeur Sanders(QB) and Shilo Sanders(Safety). Shedeur, his first year in the fall of 2021, won the FCS Jerry Rice Award for freshman of the year after passing for 3,231 yards and 30 touchdowns with only eight interceptions. Sanders, Aka “Coach Prime,” won SWAC Coach of the Year.
During his short tenure at Jackson State, Deion knows how to produce and reel in talent. Sanders has had several players make it to the NFL. But one Player that caused some controversy was Five-Star Athlete Travis Hunter. Hunter was initially committed to Florida State University, but Coach Prime Time came in and got him to bring his talents to the HBCU world. That uproar had Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban put his two cents, accusing Sanders and JSU of paying Hunter to go there. Sanders responded by saying, “They just threw me in the fire because of what we accomplished in recruiting last year with Kevin Coleman and Travis (Hunter) and some others,” Sanders, the JSU coach, said on the I Am Athlete Podcast with Brandon Marshall. “They just threw us in the fire because he was the spokesman for all the SEC and the spokesman for all the Power Fives and the PWIs (Predominantly White Institutions) by saying, ‘Hey y’all, we can’t let that happen again.’ “
The Tigers are currently 8-0 and 5-0 in conference play. Shedeur Sanders is one of the many Tigers leading the charge and is also in the Heisman Trophy conversation. The Heisman usually is won by a power five school, and Sanders is looking to be the first HBCU player to win the award. The perfect record has them eyeing another Celebration Bowl, and, maybe this time, they will win it.