When Deion Sanders took the head coach job at Jackson State in 2020, there were folks who were happy to see the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee get the opportunity. There were others who immediately questioned his qualifications for head coach at the college level.
They questioned his commitment to being a leader of young men and to some degree his acumen.
Right away he showed that swagger and charisma he displayed on the professional football fields and baseball diamonds his entire playing career. He also showed a dedication to developing each of his players as men.
Of course there were those who wondered if he could really make a difference at an HBCU. They were skeptical as to his ability to completely transform the talent level and negative perception surrounding Black college football.
Sanders had moderate success during his time as the head coach of Prime Prep football, a charter school under his name in Texas which ran from 2012 to 2015 but closed amidst mounting debt and other factors.
He then became the offensive coordinator at Trinity Christian-Cedar Hill in 2017, bringing along sons Shedeur and Shilo. Prime had a ton of success, helping lead the team to multiple state titles, and used his connections to elevate many players into the college football pipeline.
His brand visibility, personal relationships through every level of the sport and his recruiting potential played a huge role in him landing a college job.
Spring 2020-21 Season
With COVID-19 not allowing a typical fall football season in 2020, Sanders began his coaching career in the 2020-21 SWAC Spring season.
Jackson State was competitive and even finished third in the East division, going 4-3 overall and 3-2 in conference, with a few humiliating losses mixed in.
Sanders’ celebrity and bold promises immediately boosted the media presence and resources for HBCU football schools.
The mediocre success on the field was attributed to Sanders not having time to recruit players to fit his system. The pandemic combined with him taking the job in September was problematic.
Those problems didn’t last. As soon as sports got back to some normality, Coach Prime hit the recruiting scene like he was jumping a receiver’s route back in his heyday.
To find out more about Deion Sanders’ transformation into one of the elite head coaches in college football read more on The Shadow League here.