Led in by the thunderous sounds of the ‘Sonic Boom’ and a police escort, Deion Sanders, outfitted in a custom Jackson State suit, was announced as the new head coach of the Tigers this morning.
Dubbed “Coach Prime” by JSU Acting President Thomas Hudson, the NFL legend and Hall of Famer, who wore #21 throughout his professional football and baseball career, fittingly becomes the 21st head coach in JSU football history.
During his opening remarks inside of the Lee E. Williams Center, Sanders, with the overarching mantra of “I believe,” made it clear that he was ready to take on the challenge of coaching at the colligate level head-on.
“I hope y’all are ready. I hope you’re prepared and I hope you’re able because I have a commitment to excellence in each and everything I do, and I did not leave my 100 acres and a mule to come here [to lose],” he said. “We’re going to win. We’re going to look good while we win. We’re going to have a good time, sonic boom, while we win and we’re going to do this professionally. I believe this is going to be a marriage made in heaven and I can’t wait to get started.
The hire has already proven to generate a new buzz around the program, something that Sanders is committed to carrying on—beginning with recruiting.
“I believe that all of the people that you know with a child that has D-1 potential or Power 5 potential can now choose Jackson State. I believe our coaching staff is going to into every hood, every barbershop, every soul food joint, every nook and cranny, every grandmother’s house to recruit these dogs,” Sanders said.
Coach Prime called out to the JSU community for support. In 2019, JSU averaged 33,762 fans per game, and while Sanders said that is “wonderful for an HBCU,” he believes Veterans Memorial Stadium can be filled to its capacity.
“I love the way you tailgate, I love the tradition, but I believe that you go now and get your butt in the stadium and watch this team…I need each and every one of you, without a shadow of a doubt. I don’t care if it’s 3rd and 5 and we’re down by six at our 20, you’ve got to believe that we are going to march down that field. You’ve got to believe that we can do the unthinkable.”
The first time head coach also emphasized the impact that the JSU football program can have on the city of Jackson, lowering crime rates and bringing unity to the community. Additionally, he emphasized the role that football can play across the university & its athletic department.
“We’re going to increase enrollment. This program is going to be so prominent, that it is going to assist every other program in this university. All of the other sports’ head coaches, I’m here for you. If you got a dog that you need me to help your recruit, you best believe, I’m here for you because I don’t know if you know, we’re family now,” he said.
Prior to Sanders’ introduction, President Hudson called the moment a “pivotal turning point” for the program and the university. He also joked that they were about to unveil the “worst kept secret in Jackson, Mississippi” after reports of the hire began to surface last Friday.
Athletic Director Ashley Robinson detailed the process that brought ‘Neon Deion’ to Jackson.
“When we started the process of looking for a new head coach for our legendary football program, I told the team that we would find the best possible candidate and not leave one stone unturned. This was truly a national search, and it was evident pretty quickly that we had one ‘prime’ candidate to rise to the top of the list,” Robinson explained.
On the field, Sanders replaces John Hendrick, who was let go following a 4-8 season in 2019—his first as the full-time head coach after serving on an interim basis for a portion of the 2018 season.
While this will be Sanders’ first time coaching in college, he currently serves as the offensive coordinator for Trinity Christian High School in Texas, where his son, Shedeur, has developed into a highly-sought after QB prospect.
The SWAC voted to push its season to the spring, meaning you won’t see Sanders’ Tigers in action until February 27th against Mississippi Valley State.
Watch the full introduction below: