It’s safe to assume that Deion Sanders felt at home on Wednesday afternoon. Between being back in his native Florida and being in front of a microphone, the Jackson State head coach was in his element.
Sanders appeared in Miami along with Florida A&M head coach Willie Simmons in a pre-season press conference for the Orange Blossom Classic. The two HBCU titans and future SWAC rivals are set to meet on Sept. 5 in Hard Rock Stadium in a highly-anticipated matchup.
Sanders, who just finished a six-game spring football season, is looking forward to returning to his home state.
“I’ve played in front of 70, 80, 90 thousand people, but not 70, 80, 90 thousand of my people,” Sanders said. “This is new to me. My people…we do this a little different when it comes to the pageantry.”
The former Florida State football star wasn’t wrong about that. Chad Ochocinco showed up to greet him before the presser. There were performances by bands. Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell was in attendance.
Coach Prime was definitely feeling the vibes. He even talked about his very personal connection with Florida A&M.
“My first wife came from FAMU. We didn’t make it in the end — but we had a beautiful run,” he said with a laugh.
But when the subject came to what HBCUs could do to compete for better athletes, Sanders got serious.
“How do you level that if a coach has a kid on a recruiting visit, and he knows darn well the next week that kid is going to Alabama. So how do you level that?”
Sanders, as he often does, answered his own question.
“The only way we’re going to attract those type of kids and get those type of kids is everything has to look the same.”
“How does a state-funded high school look better than a state-funded college? Sanders asked. “Somebody help me with that, I need to know?”
One thing Deion Sanders said he does know: a player from an HBCU will be selected in the 2022 NFL Draft. None were picked in 2021.
“There is no way that the next time the draft comes around there won’t be a single person from an HBCU school not drafted,” Sanders said Wednesday during a press conference at Hard Rock Stadium. “I promise you that will not happen. Not on our watch.”