As we sit on the eve of Deion Sanders’ first full day on the job at Jackson State University let’s look back at some of the major moves he’s already made.
Bringing in influential support
Deion Sanders has a lot of famous sayings, one of them actually made it into a song and music video. “Must be the Money.” Sanders has a lot of connections in the world of sports and entertainment, some of which have supported his move to Jackson State University.
Sanders teamed up with another Hall of Famer, Michael Strahan, to complete the Tigers’ look off the field. Which brings us to another famous Prime Time saying:
“On game day, the Jackson State Tigers don’t expect to just win on the field— but off the field. We will look good and feel good, which constitutes us to play good,” Sanders said. “Coach Prime and Collection By Michael Strahan are a winning team.”
Strahan is an HBCU alum from Texas Southern but he’s best known for his playing days with the NY Giants and his current role(s) as a network media personality. The brand alignment with Strahan is a net gain for Jackson State.
Phil Mickelson recently announced a minimum donation of $500,000 to Jackson State University. The Hall of Fame golfer chose JSU as part of a charity event that was played this past weekend.
“As a white male, I’ll never be able to fully empathize and understand the challenges that Black America goes through, but I want to be part of the solution,” Mickelson said on Deion Sanders’ podcast 21st and Prime.
NFL Hall of Famer Bo Jackson and entertainment icon Snoop Dogg have also publicly offered to visit and speak with the Jackson State football team.
Keeping continuity on the staff
Jackson State assistant coach T.C. Taylor is a blue blood Tiger at Jackson State. Taylor played quarterback and wide receiver at Jackson State University from 1998-2001. During his senior year, Taylor broke the single-season record for receptions with 84 catches for 1,234 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Keeping Taylor on the staff as a holder wasn’t a requirement but it was a wise choice. Taylor knows the Jackson State culture and the terrain of the SWAC. He also knows football. He was running the offensive side of the ball for North Carolina Central during its heyday of three MEAC titles from 2014-2016. Jackson State thought enough of Taylor to list him as a leading candidate until Sanders was officially hired. Taylor originally came back to JSU in January of 2019 as a wide receivers coach. Offensive line coach Otis Riddley is also a holdover from the previous staff.
Securing FBS transfers
Picking up FBS transfers isn’t a new phenomenon at Jackson State or other HBCUs. The light seems to be a bit brighter as players across the country answer Sanders’ call for recruiting “real dogs.”
Earlier in the month, JSU picked up a commitment from former Florida State DB/WR Isaiah Bolden. Former Tennessee linebacker Nyles Gaddy committed early in November as well. And Sanders’ first commitment was from former Mississippi State defensive back Javarrious Selmons.
A transfer from a Power Five school doesn’t equal a championship within a vacuum. But when you are stacking transfers that meet your prerequisites the numbers suggest you are going to hit on some winners with your personnel. It’s a numbers game.
Switching JSU from Nike to Under Armour
One of the priorities that Sanders had when arriving on campus was flipping Jackson State from Nike to Under Armour. Sanders swore off the swoosh despite once being a top Nike athlete. The JSU coach has a personal endorsement contract with Under Armour.
Jackson State’s previous deal with Nike was through a third party, which supplied the school. These are the types of relationships that many HBCUs have with apparel manufacturers. JSU wore Nike apparel but there wasn’t much in the way of personalized attention. The deal with Under Armour will not include a middle man. The Tigers will have a direct line to Under Armour and they expect to showcase the relationship when football starts.
“We’re going to go directly to Under Armour for all of our needs, and all of our wants. And I think that’s going to big. That’s going to help us cross all different kinds of platforms,” said Troy Johnson, JSU’s Assistant AD for Internal Operations.
He made those comments during an interview on the Tiger Talk with the 1400 Klub podcast.
Signing four-star recruits directly out of high school
Transfers are nice, especially when they have lots of eligibility remaining. But nothing beats signing a four-star or five-star athlete directly out of high school. It’s great news when a school wins a recruiting battle and brings an athlete directly into its program from day one.
Sanders’ first major coup came in his own backyard. Literally, the backyard at his house. Coach Sanders landed his son, Shedeur Sanders, a four-star quarterback who had initially committed to Florida Atlantic University.
Shedeur Sanders is one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the class of 2021. Overall, he is the no. 216 prospect in his class according to 24/7 Sports. The Texas native is the no. 35 player in the state, and nationwide he is ranked as the no. 14 pro-style quarterback.
Not only does that give JSU another talented QB in the quarterback room, but it’s also a fairy tale story. There’s hardly ever a more popular story than the star athlete who decided to play for his father. The coach’s son is always a great narrative for the media to latch onto, and Jackson State is ready for all the national news that comes its way.
Sanders committed on Nov. 6, the same day as three-star recruit Herman Smith. The San Diego native is a three-star recruit with prospects of playing on both sides of the ball.
What’s next for Deion Sanders
Now that Jackson State and Deion Sanders are officially a thing, there are more headlines to come. Sanders has to officially round out the remainder of his coaching staff, which will be followed by plenty of analysis and conversation. The media machine at Jackson State probably won’t have an off day between now and Christmas. Sanders is accustomed to living his life in front of the camera and he will no doubt be pitching Jackson State to the fanbase and media online.
Come Tuesday Jackson State football is officially under the watch of Deion Sanders. They are hoping every day will be Prime Time.