By Dennis Driscoll and Spencer McClenty
As the Tigers look to return to dominance, a football legend is now leading the legendary football program. Deion Sanders, also known as Coach Prime, was introduced as the program’s 21st head coach on Sept. 21, 2020.
Sanders is arguably one of the greatest athletes to ever walk the planet. An eight-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl champion, Sanders played 14 seasons in the NFL on the Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens. He also played nine Major League Baseball seasons with four teams. As a testament to his athletic prowess, Sanders is the only athlete to have scored an NFL touchdown and hit an MLB home run in the same week. He also is the only athlete to have played in both a Super Bowl and a World Series.
“I was very excited to welcome Coach Prime to the city of Jackson, the state of Mississippi and most importantly, Jackson State University,” said JSU Vice President and Director of Athletics Ashley Robinson. “Deion Sanders knows football and he’s able to teach the game to our young men. That’s the easy part for him. What I love most about our new head coach is that he’s a leader among men and will teach his studentathletes to be great fathers, leaders, contributing members of society.”
Sanders has a plan to return JSU football to its glory and he’s happy to have the backing of the campus community as he begins his tenure.
“We are going to restore Jackson State,” Sanders said. “We have the support from the highest points in leadership on this campus. We have a man in President Thomas Hudson that truly believes in the young men and women in our athletics programs across all sports and that’s very important.”
In a manner befitting an overachieving, alltime great athlete, the start of Deion Sander’s era at JSU will consist of two football seasons condensed into one calendar year. The spring season began on Feb. 21 with a contest against Edward Waters College. The fall season will begin with a game on Sept. 5 versus Florida A&M in the Orange Blossom Classic in Miami, Florida.
But for Sanders, his tenure as head football coach at JSU is not just about wins and losses. Rather, Sanders believes God sent him to JSU to “level the playing field for HBCUs.”
“If these kids had the same playing field, I promise you, more of them would matriculate to the next level, “ said Sanders. “But it’s not a level playing field. God called me to change the game, to open eyes, to open the door. And that’s why I’m here.”