Deion Sanders has proven to be a winner on and off the field. After an impressive career in the National Football League, Major League Baseball, and a brief stint as a sports broadcast host, Sanders took his talent to Mississippi’s capital city to lead the resident HBCU’s struggling football program.
The Jackson State University Tigers have thrived under the leadership of Coach Prime, as Sanders is affectionately called. With Sanders’ son, Shedeur Sanders, at quarterback, the Tigers went 11-2 last year and won the championship. The team is also currently undefeated this season.
Altogether, the Tigers’ record is 20-5 over the three seasons Sanders has been there.
“I truly believe with all my heart and soul that God called me collect and I had to accept the charges,” Sanders said of his decision to take the head coaching job at the JSU during an interview with “60 Minutes.”
He added George Floyd’s death “was relevant” to him taking the job “because a lot of folks sit back with Twitter fingers and talk about what they’re going to do and I wanted to go do it … to change lives; change the perspective of HBCU football. Do what’s right by these kids.”
But the back-to-back NFL Super Bowl champ also said he’d “be a fool not to” entertain coaching offers from Power 5 schools.
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It’s why city officials and residents are doing everything they can to ensure Jackson doesn’t lose him.
On Tuesday, Oct. 11, the Jackson City Council unanimously approved a resolution to construct a new football stadium for the school in hopes it would help retain Sanders, WLBT 3 reported.
“We’ve had so much success with our coach, Deion Sanders Prime Time, and it’s just the perfect time, if we’re going to get a new stadium, to start talking… and let’s try to make it a reality,” Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes said. “We’re all hoping that Coach Prime stays in the city for a long period of time, but a lot of colleges and universities are trying to get his talents.”
“Maybe if we can show, as a state, that we are committed to him staying, and to the new stadium, maybe it would help encourage him to stay,” Stokes continued.
Ward 5 Councilman Vernon Hartley echoed his colleague’s sentiment.
“We’re talking economic impact in the millions,” Hartley said. “If and when he decides to move on, it’s going to be a loss. We need to go ahead and take advantage of all the things we can do right now.”
Since his arrival, Sanders has helped build a new practice field and locker room for the team. He’s also elevated the status of JSU’s program overall.
Sanders’ presence in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) has permeated beyond the walls of Jackson State. HBCU football across the country is garnering more mainstream interest and players are being drafted by the NFL for the first time in years.
“The atmosphere for football has not been this high in a long, long, long time,” Stokes said. “He’s a good coach. He’s good for the community. He’s good for the SWAC… It’s just a blessing to have someone like Deion Sanders, Coach Prime, in the city of Jackson.”
Options aside, for now, Sanders is enjoying the ride at JSU.
“I can’t say I don’t love it,” Sanders said of his head coaching status at the HBCU. “I love every darn minute of it.”
PHOTO: Jackson State University Head Coach Deion Sanders thanks American Airlines for supporting the school. (Photo: Twitter / @DeionSanders)