Deion Sanders has done what he said he would do when he was hired to lead the Jackson State Tigers last season.
Sanders, a man of great faith, believes in a higher power, and he said this on the first episode of his “21st and Prime” podcast in September.
“God called me to Jackson State.”
One year later that calling has manifested itself in a heightened profile for HBCUs in general and turned the Tigers into SWAC champions for the first time since 2007.
The win also means they’ll play in their first Celebration Bowl next week against the MEAC Champion South Carolina State.
The game will take place next Saturday in Atlanta, Sanders’ first stop along a legendary Hall of Fame NFL career.
He set a new standard for two-sport athletes by starting for the Falcons while contributing to a National League champion Atlanta Braves squad in MLB.
Years later, he’s still impactful and proved that as a head coach this season.
JSU Dominates, Takes SWAC
The Tigers used their stingy defense and the power running of tailbacks Peyton Pickett (107 yards rushing) and Santee Marshall (50 yards rushing) to basically maul the Panthers into submission.
Following the win, Coach Prime couldn’t contain his joy.
“Look at this. Look at the community,” his eyes panning around the stadium as the Jackson State marching band played. “Look at Jackson. Look at the SWAC. I’m so elated right now. It’s one thing to win, but to win with our people? Jesus, Lord, I thank you.”
— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) December 5, 2021
“This is unbelievable. We didn’t play our best, but all our kids gave it their best. It’s one thing to win, but to win without me? Lord, I thank you.”
Tigers Clinch First 11-Win Season In School ￼History
The Tigers also clinched their first 11-win season ever with the SWAC title. That’s kind of hard to believe considering the glorious football history Jackson State’s had, particularly in the ’70s and ’80s.
But that’s the Coach Prime effect at work: accomplishing things the Jackson State community probably never thought of in Jackson, Mississippi.
Deion Sanders and Jackson State won the SWAC Championship after an 11-1 season 👏
The Tigers' first conference crown since 2007. pic.twitter.com/mZ34n9mrpW
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) December 5, 2021
Sanders Shakes Wheelchair For Scooter While Leading Tigers To Title
Since his return to the sideline a couple weeks ago following foot/toe surgery, Sanders’ mode of transportation has been a wheelchair.
But that changed as he appeared from the tunnel on a scooter at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium to cheers and screams from over 50,000 fans who came to see their Tigers make history.
Prior to Sanders’ arrival, the Tigers were 18-37 over the previous five years. In just 18 games Coach Prime has gone 14-4 with a championship.
Just an unreal rebuilding job by Deion Sanders.
Jackson State was 18-37 the 5 years prior to his arrival.
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) December 5, 2021
Now attention shifts to the Bulldogs of S.C. State in the Celebration Bowl.
No matter the outcome of the next week’s game, Sanders has continued to raise the visibility and profile of HBCU football as a whole. It appears to be just the beginning of something unprecedented in college sports.
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