About a year before Deion Sanders became the head coach at Jackson State, the word went out that he was interested in coaching college football.
At first, it was an easy idea to dismiss. Until that point, Sanders’ foray into amateur sports had been pretty comical, including starting the scandal-plagued Prime Prep Academy, which was pretty much a caricature of every sketchy fly-by-night high school come to life. Plus, this is Deion Sanders we’re talking about. For a relentless self-promoter with a cushy media job, the grinding life of a college football coach didn’t seem like the most natural fit.
But here’s the funny thing. When people actually sat down with Sanders, including search firms and a couple schools with job openings, they came away pretty impressed. He wasn’t going to get any of those jobs — colleges are generally pretty risk-averse when millions of dollars are on the line — but he was clearly serious about trying.
How serious? So serious that on Wednesday, he got the No. 1 recruit in the country to renege on a verbal commitment to Florida State — Sanders’ alma mater, by the way — and instead sign a national letter of intent to play in the Football Championship Subdivision at Jackson State.
To say there’s no modern precedent for Travis Hunter’s decision to enroll at Jackson State would probably be an understatement. This isn’t a kid with off-field baggage or academic issues that caused the big programs to back off. He doesn’t have a parent on the coaching staff. He’s not even from Mississippi, bypassing several SEC and ACC programs closer to his hometown in Suwanee, Georgia, to play in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. It’s probably the most stunning commitment in the history of signing day.
But the implications of Hunter picking Jackson State aren’t going to be nearly…