Jackson State University made the best decision by hiring Deion Sanders in September 2020 as their head coach. Deion is known as a game-changer. The two-time NFL Super Bowl Champion, eight-time Pro Bowler, and nine-time All-Pro again have changed the game, but for the Jackson State Football program. Not only that, he has taken College Football by storm, recruiting some of the highest sought-after high school prospects.
Coaching at a Historically Black College University (HBCU) it is not common to go after four-and five-star recruits in hopes of signing them. However, Sanders thinks otherwise. If you ever listened to him speak it shouldn’t come as a surprise as to how he can recruit these players. “No other HBCUs have ever recruited four- and five-star players because they felt like they never had a chance and the high school coaches don’t direct them there,” Sanders said. Until Sanders arrived Jackson State had never landed a four-star recruit. The Tigers now have eight recruits who are four stars or higher.
This is but one indicator of how Sanders’ arrival has already changed Jackson State Football. Now let’s take a deeper dive and look at how this program is becoming an HBCU powerhouse.
Sanders and JSU Sign Top Recruits
One of the biggest eye-openers in college football is Travis Hunter and his commitment to Jackson State. The nation’s overall top recruit was the most sought-after player who many thought would sign with Florida State.
Boy were we wrong! On National Signing Day Hunter changes his mind and commits to Jackson State. Hunter, a two-way player at wide receiver/defensive back is a game changer on both sides of the field. He should have an immediate impact on the Tigers.
HISTORY HAS BEEN MADE 🤯 THE NATION’S NUMBER ONE RECRUIT TRAVIS HUNTER HAS COMMITTED TO HBCU JACKSON STATE!!@DeionSanders x @JacksonStateU pic.twitter.com/OPdLMtk9K6 — PFF College (@PFF_College) December 15, 2021
It doesn’t stop there. Kevin Coleman Jr., the top-ranked slot receiver picked Jackson State over Miami, Florida State, and others. What makes Coleman pick unique is he chose JSU without even visiting the campus. In a statement to Sports Illustrated Coleman explains why he chose Jackson State over the Power 5 schools.
“I see everything he [head coach Deion Sanders] is doing and I want to be a part of it,” Coleman told SI All-American’s Matt Solorio. “Coach Prime, to be coached by a person who has done it before. Why not? He can teach me. He did it on both sides, he did it on special teams and he is a great person with great character.”
“And of course his son’s the quarterback, so it will be a lot of passes. Air raid, there will be a lot of balls in the air and I want to be a part of it.”
Returning for the Tigers are receivers Malachi Wideman who caught 34 passes for 540 yards last season. And Trevonte Rucker with 26 catches and 515 yards.
A Reconstructed Offensive Line
Jackson State’s offensive line has been an issue, and Coach Prime has been adamant about correcting it. Last season the Tigers finished last in the SWAC in rushing yards with 1,160. With an average per attempt of 3.0 yards. To help fix the problem the Tigers signed five offensive line transfers. This should help with their rushing woes and give the Tigers quarterback Shedeur Sanders more time in the pocket.
Deion hires defensive specialist Mike Zimmer
The hiring of Coach Zimmer as an analyst may not come off as much of a surprise. They worked together for the Dallas Cowboys in the 90’s. Sanders as a player and Zimmer as a defensive assistance. Coach Zimmer is a defensive specialist. And with a defense like Jackson State who led the nation in sacks last season, Zimmer should feel right at home. While coaching the Minnesota Vikings Zimmer steered them to several top-ranked defensive NFL seasons. The Vikings were ranked #1 in 2017, #3 in 2018, and #4 in 2019.
Jackson State Hires Former Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer For Analyst Role. It Was Announced On Jackson State HC @DeionSanders IG Page, Via: @theepregameshow #TheeILove pic.twitter.com/YtHtvrKvSc — LIGHT ON COLLEGE SPORTS (@LightOnSports) August 16, 2022
Zimmer spoke highly of Sanders and is excited about what he can accomplish moving forward in his coaching career.
“I think the sky is the limit,” Zimmer said. “If some people would donate to him and his football program, there would be no stopping him. He would be competing with the Georgia’s and Alabamas and everybody around the country.”
The anticipation of the 2022-2023 season is at a high. After the Tigers won the SWAC Championship with a record of 11-2, and 8-0 in the conference last season. It ended on a sour note as Jackson State was routed in the 2021 Celebration Bowl with a 31-10 loss to South Carolina State.
With the new additions on their roster, and the hire of an NFL veteran coach. Look for Jackson State University to be better and ready to dominate this season.