Key contributors of the Jackson State University Tigers football team are being put front and center on a new magazine cover. Learn more in the Sports Illustrated below.

Deion Sanders is ‘Primed’ for More Power in College Football

Can Deion Sanders continue to wield his power of influence and seize more of a stake in college football in 2022?

HBCU football has been under the prime influence of Deion Sanders. The Jackson State football head coach has elevated all HBCU sports teams and institutions from mediocrity to relevance since his arrival in Nov. 2020. 

The chatter quickly evolved from the ‘Neon Deion’ sideshow into the ‘Prime Effect,’ where mainstream sports topics centered around his bold commentary and impressive winning at Jackson State.

It’s been nearly 30 years since Sports Illustrated has featured an HBCU athlete on its magazine cover.  Alcorn State’s late and great Steve McNair’s “Hand Him the Heisman” photo graced the Sept. 26, 1994 issue of Sports Illustrated — yet, no one else from an HBCU — not until Deion Sanders. 

Today, Deion Sanders, his son and quarterback Shedeur Sanders, and star recruit Travis Hunter are prominently showcased by his longtime friend Jean-Jacques Taylor in SI. Coach Deion Sanders and his program is becoming a legitimate force on the college football landscape. 

If you’re unsure, ask Nick Saban.


On May 19, the eight-time national championship head coach made unfounded statements about Jackson State’s recruitment of Travis Hunter. He told a group of Alabama businessmen that the institution lured Hunter to the HBCU with a $1 million NIL deal. 

The claim is baseless, but it speaks to the relevancy of Coach Prime’s abilities to attract and recruit five-star prospects. The undertone message is simple. The rank and file of FBS coaches are worried that more defections to HBCUs are looming. They are correct.

Travis Hunter is the key. 

Coach Sanders has wisely paired the freshman phenom with literally his own phenom — Shedeur Sanders. The two players have been “partners in crime” from Hunter’s early entrance at Jackson State. The 2021 Jerry Rice Award-winning quarterback has taken Hunter under his wing. 

We have seen them in Coach Prime’s office, during private workouts, on private airplanes, and even at corporate events. The chemistry is noticeable for Coach Sanders’ seemingly inseparable star players.


Saban and his cronies were right to throw a fit about losing Hunter. At the Jackson State’s Spring Game, the freshman astounded the JSU faithful and millions of ESPN viewers with touchdowns and tremendous defensive plays. 

Hunter is the real deal. Flipping Travis Hunter could become the primary reason that recruiting in college football will never be the same for Power 5s and HBCUs. Should Deion Sanders field another winning team and a Celebration Bowl Championship, or FCS Playoff berth, FBS coaches’ concerns will amplify during next season’s recruiting cycle.

Nevertheless, Hunter is one of those rare players that strikes once in a lifetime for a program. Will the “Sanders-Hunter Connection” be “Primed” to propel the Jackson State program to new levels in 2022? 

No one knows. But rest assured, Deion Sanders has shaken and rattled the current foundation of HBCU and NCAA football. 

Will his power continue to grow, or will it soon plateau?

We shall see.