Deion Sanders and Jackson State are set to kick off the 2021 football season under the spotlight. JSU will take on Florida A&M Sunday in the Orange Blossom Classic.
Sanders brought linebacker Nyles Gaddy and quarterback Shedeur Sanders with him to the pregame press conference to discuss the game and the program.
The Orange Blossom Classic is a game of huge historical significance. In its initial run from 1933 through 1978, the game often decided the national title game. Sanders admitted he didn’t know every big game in the series, but said he understood that it is significant.
“It’s so much tradition. And we’re elated when my AD told us upon hiring me, you know, we’re going to play in the Orange Blossom Classic,” he said. “First he had to explain it to me what that was, and the magnitude and the multitude of that.”
Sanders said once he got it — he got it.
“Once I embraced that, I said this is a tremendous opportunity. And everything has been nothing but first class. For these young men to get on a chartered flight, and a four- or five-star hotel and accommodations be as it is, it’s unbelievable. They are getting a Power Five experience daily. And that’s what they deserve. Why not us?”
Here are some more standout moments from the presser.
Deion Sanders on NFL Scouts attending the game
They would be a fool if they wouldn’t. I think the Dolphins are right across the street. They would be a fool if they didn’t walk over.
Deion Sanders on coaching his kids
It’s been joy and pain. And you pick out the ones that brought me joy and the son that brought me pain. (Laughter.)
But, no, it’s been wonderful. My kids, I’ve coached my kids their entire life. This is not new to us. Keep in mind that when we’re between the lines I’m Coach Prime. Outside of that I’m dad. They don’t mix the two. They don’t call me that in the line of battle. They know there’s a difference.
But I feel like Mr. Gaddy is one of my kids. I love him as such. I’m going to chastise him and stay on his butt as such because I want the best for him. So if you start to identify which is my son without their name on the back I’m not doing my job because I need to treat all of them accurately. But I’m happy. I’m happy.
Sanders on JSU’s Florida ties
It’s going to be great. We have 12 to 15 that’s from Florida that’s going to be playing in front of their friends and family as well. They have a coach that’s from Florida that’s going to be playing in front of his friends family and homies as well. So ain’t nothing changed, nothing ain’t different.
It’s going to be homecoming. It’s going to be a home going as well. Ain’t going to be no competitive advantage because they’re from Florida. We’ve got some Florida boys too. And we’re recruiting tonight, as a matter of fact.
Sanders on SWAC Expansion
We love it. The more the merrier. The president of the SWAC, he’s been doing a phenomenal job. And I like what he’s doing. I love his vision. I love what he is thinking. Personally I wish the MEAC would fold up like a tent and just come on so we could really do this thing like the SEC. That’s my hope. That’s my dream. I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen no time expeditiously.
But when we think what’s best for everyone I think that would be best for everyone, some way to merge. I don’t mean fold up, because they’re not a great conference, they are. But I just wish some way we could unite and make this into something really special and spectacular.
Shedeur Sanders on adjusting to the college game
I learned the speed of the game. I feel like this spring it was good for me to sit out and just watch and see — I’m just getting out of high school. I just played my season. My last fall season of high school. Just seeing the speed of the game and just being able to read the defense and be more confident. And I felt my growth from the spring to now is tremendous.