When Deion Sanders took the job at Jackson State University last September, his goal was to bring more visibility and notoriety to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Black College Football as a whole. It’s safe to say he’s exceeded that goal already with the revenue he’s helped generate, as well as the visibility weekly on ESPN. His voice has resonated far beyond the JSU campus in Jackson, Mississippi.
— COACH PRIME (@DeionSanders) November 15, 2021
A shortened spring season due to the COVID-19 pandemic marred his first season, but his Tigers were still competitive despite not having his recruits in place just yet. Fast forward to the 2021 season, and back to some sense of normalcy even if it is a “new normal.” Sanders has led the Tigers to an undefeated SWAC regular season and an East Division title.
That comes with a berth in the SWAC title game on Dec. 4. The program sits at 10-1, having now recorded its first 10-win season since 1996. And for Sanders, it means he’s made the finalist list for the Stats Perform Eddie Robinson Award that honors the country’s best Football Championship Subdivision football coach.
Meaning Of Eddie Robinson Award
The Eddie Robinson Award is given annually to the top college football coach in FCS, which was formerly Division 1-AA. Named after the legendary Eddie Robinson who coached a record 56 seasons at Grambling State University, before retiring in 1997. Robinson won nine Black College National Championships and 17 SWAC Championships. During his extremely successful tenure, he won 408 games, placing him third all-time in wins behind Joe Gagliardi of (St. John’s University – MN) with 489 and Joe Paterno (Penn State) at 409.
Happy Birthday, Coach Rob. pic.twitter.com/xyMi7DMPft
— Coach Eddie Robinson (@CoachERobinson) February 13, 2016
Sanders Has The “IT FACTOR”
Coach Prime definitely has that from a leadership standpoint. His swagger and charisma are undeniable, but that’s not all to the Pro Football Hall of Famer. The man can flat coach the game of football from a preparation and “X and O” standpoint.
He doesn’t get enough credit around the nation. But he doesn’t care as the results speak for themselves. He’s all about enhancing the culture at HBCUs and expanding the resources for Black student-athletes. His passion is evident in his pre and postgame talks with his team, to his conversations with the community in Jackson and the surrounding areas. It’s not all about football with Sanders; it’s “ministry” as he calls it.
Health Crisis And Rumors Of His Departure
Sanders just endured a strenuous health crisis following foot/toe surgery. The crisis caused him to miss three consecutive games, returning for the Eastern Division- clinching win over rival Southern University. While in the hospital, rumors of Texas Christian University wanting to interview the coach and possibly hire him away leaked out. That, in addition to some real health concerns, kept Deion in the news.
He returned to the sidelines in a wheelchair, just in time to lead the crowd in the songs “THEE I LOVE” and “MY HITTA” following a JSU victory as the team clinched a spot in the SWAC championship.
College Coaching Begins With Recruiting And Sanders Is Elite
The Tigers led all of FCS in sacks and they’ve held SWAC opponents to a conference-low 13.8 points per game. That dominance was on full display as JSU battered and bruised the Alabama A&M Bulldogs. The Bulldogs’ elite QB Aqeel Glass was sacked eight times in a 61-15 drubbing. Every sack came from recruits in Sanders’ historical 2021 55th- ranked class — the top-ranked class in FCS.
Sanders landed top-power five recruits on offense, grabbing Tennessee wide receiver Malachi Wideman through the transfer portal. The 6-foot-5 Wideman caught two touchdowns to give JSU the win at Southern after trailing (17-7) with five minutes remaining.
Malachi Wideman and Shedeur Sanders Earn SWAC Player of the Week Accolades 🏈
— Jackson State Athletics (@GoJSUTigers) October 25, 2021
Sanders And Son Shedeur Up For Numerous Awards
Coach Prime isn’t the only JSU Tiger up for an award, as star QB Shedeur Sanders is a candidate for the Walter Payton and Jerry Rice Awards. The Walter Payton Award is given annually to the most outstanding offensive player in FCS or Division 1-AA football. The Jerry Rice Award is given annually to the most outstanding freshman player in FCS or Division 1-AA football.
What a season it’s been for The Sanders Family and Jackson State football.
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