On the 10th and final public commitment of the All-American Bowl, the only surprise of the day went public.
Kevin Coleman Jr., the top-ranked slot receiver recruit in college football’s class of 2022, took his time before making the announcement to pick Jackson State over the likes of Miami, Florida State, Arizona State and others.
As the NBC broadcast urged him to make the pick between several hats on the table, Coleman donned a JSU hat and put on a navy blue blazer before confirming his plans to attend the 2021 SWAC Champion program.
Shortly after the decision went public, Coleman confirmed to Sports Illustrated he made the selection without making a visit to campus.
“I see everything he [head coach Deion Sanders] is doing and I want to be a part of it,” Coleman told SI All-American’s Matt Solorio. “Coach Prime, to be coached by a person who has done it before. Why not? He can teach me. He did it on both sides, he did it on special teams and he is a great person with great character.
“And of course his son’s the quarterback, so it will be a lot of passes. Air raid, there will be a lot of balls in the air and I want to be a part of it.”
As analysts within the recruiting industry focused on Florida State and Miami, there was only rumor of JSU being Coleman’s final selection beyond being a hat on the table. Coleman says the final decision wasn’t made privately until Friday, the day before the pick.
“I knew yesterday, and I kind of told both of my parents, ‘that’s it,’” he said. “It was a hard decision to make, not easy, but you’ve got to make the decision for yourself. You’ve got to believe you can make it from anywhere. I’m proud of myself.”
Coleman did not let anyone outside of the room know, not even his future head coach. That will have changed by Saturday evening, but the buzz surrounding Sanders’s program will remain.
The senior becomes the second highly-touted high school recruit to pick the Tigers, an HBCU located in Jackson, Miss., over Power 5 scholarship offers. The nation’s top-ranked recruit, Travis Hunter, did so on the early National Signing Day after a longtime commitment to Florida State.
The Saint Louis (Mo.) St. Mary’s standout wide receiver, who is ranked as the No. 11 overall recruit in the Sports Illustrated 99 (SI99) rankings, picked JSU over nearly three dozen scholarship offers from Power 5 and FBS programs.
Coleman took official visits to Miami, USC, Oregon and Florida State this fall. JSU’s recruiting win becomes even more impressive in earning a verbal commitment despite not hosting him for a conventional visit. Communication with Sanders and the program was all it took to lock in a decision before Coleman’s pick was made on national television Saturday.
Jackson State now has more SI99 recruits on board than the likes of Oklahoma, Iowa, Ole Miss, Florida State, Cincinnati and others.
“I want to be a freshman All-American, with 1,000-plus yards,” Coleman said of his 2022 season goals. “I’m going to be that difference-maker in that offense and I feel like a lot of schools won’t want to play us anymore.
“Things are about to change and I’m going to recruit more guys here.”