Deion Sanders’ goal is to help young people.
It doesn’t matter if he has to mentor, push, chastise, praise, scold or uplift, Sanders will do it.
Sanders has been coaching on the high school level, currently as the offensive coordinator at Trinity Christian-Cedar Hill. He had a prep school, Prime Prep, that ultimately closed due to financial issues and the inability of administration officials to meet state mandates to keep the school compliant. But he’s never wavered in what he wanted.
“I do this for the kids, I’m not doing it for myself,” Sanders said. “I’ve had all the hand claps and accolades over a lifetime. Everything I do, my purpose is to try to lift someone, unite someone, bless someone, promote someone and get them to the next level that’s always been my goal.”
Sanders takes over a program with a rich tradition. There have been 93 players from Jackson State who have played in the NFL (106 were drafted). Four Hall of Famers (Walter Payton, Lem Barney, Jackie Slater and Robert Brazile) were discovered on the Mississippi campus. On Thursday, defensive lineman Coy Bacon from the famed Fearsome Foursome of the Los Angeles Rams was inducted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame.
However, the program is 18-37 the last five seasons and hasn’t posted a winning record in the SWAC since 2013. The last above .500 record was 2013.
Jackson State is on probation the next two seasons for violations to certification rules.
This doesn’t bother Sanders.
Why would it?
He’s always played with a purpose and boldness that propelled him to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Saying the former Cowboys cornerback was great is an understatement. He walked into the NFL expecting to become a Hall of Famer from Florida State and backed up every boast and shut down nearly every top receiver in a 14-year NFL career.
Now he enters the choppy waters of college football and must recruit. He’s got to get the Mississippi kids first and chase after the highly coveted recruits in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
And Sanders isn’t looking for the average player.
“It’s a kid I want who can play on Sunday,” he said.
The early signing period is Dec. 16 and Sanders feels something special will happen.
“I don’t want to show you my whole hand,” he said. “The early signing (period) we’re going to shock the world. A lot of kids want to understand they got a chance to make it to the next level and they want to be taught and be matured and developed and how to learn how to be a man as well as well as learning the game. If you can give them all those capabilities and fill all those voids I think you will have a winning a program.”
Sanders’ son, Shedeur, changed his commitment from Florida Atlantic and playing quarterback for coach Willie Taggart, to play for dad.
Shedeur is the highest-rated high school recruit to commit to Jackson State. He is ranked 229th nationally in the class of 2021 and 247 Sports has him rated the 14th best Pro Style quarterback in the nation. He’s 30th best prospect in the Dallas area in The Dallas Morning News rankings.
Deion Sanders already has four quality transfers coming, including four-star recruit wide receiver Isaiah Bolden who left Florida State.
The impact Sanders can have on HBCU’s overall is hard to measure at this stage. His presence in the SWAC will be tremendous, especially in games against Southern and Grambling State in the spring when football resumes with those huge fan bases. Winning solves problems and changing the perception five and four star recruits won’t commit to HBCUs is a challenge.
Sanders has the respect of high school players because he stayed close to the game coaching in high school and the visibility of working for media companies.
Will it work?
Sanders believes so.There are about 3,000 Jackson State alumni in the Dallas area.
The marching band, Sonic Boom of the South, is going to be waiting.
“We got off track where scouts are not coming to solicit HBCU players as they once did, and once it was the first option,” Sanders said. “It’s up to me. It’s my calling to level the playing field when we get it back to where it once was. Where we’re going to be the first option. We’re not looking for players that nobody wants. We want the same players that Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney want and desires that’s what I’m looking for.”