By Jackie Hampton,
On Monday JSU Athletic Director Ashley Robinson named the legendary ‘Coach Prime’ as the new head football coach of Jackson State University. In a statement, Robinson said, “We expect to compete for and win championships at Jackson State, and Coach Sanders will help us achieve those goals.”
‘Prime Time’ Deion Sanders, (53), riding in the back seat of a cadillac made a grand entrance into the JSU Athletic Assembly Center, while the JSU PEP Band & Prancing J-Settes marched in front. The band, while playing at a high pitch was followed by a JPD police led motorcade blasting their sirens as a noisy socially distanced audience observed. Calvin Ousby, director of security for the JSU football team directed their entrance.
The rumors had been flying for days throughout the city, state and even the nation that NFL Hall of Famer, Deion Sanders, known as “Coach Time” had been chosen as the new head coach, but it was not until Monday at the 9 a.m. press conference that JSU officials confirmed the rumors.
Sanders said, “God called me to Jackson State,”, while Thomas Hudson, acting president of JSU, referred to the hiring as an act of God.
Sanders was very emotional when he said, “I have a commitment to excellence in each and every thing I do.” In several statements he shared his vision for Jackson State, often times using the term, “I believe.”
On Tuesday, another press conference was held at the JSU Walter Peyton Center, where members of the press were given an opportunity to ask questions.
One question came from Keisha J. Kelly, CEO & Founder of BlackCollege Experience. Kelly asked, “Where did ‘I believe’ come from?’ The newly hired coach responded, “God gave it to me.” He went on to explain, “It was my Jr/Sr year at Florida State University. We started at the bench press. We were maxing out that day and I think it was 335 pounds on the bench. I had never tried that. I sat down on that bench and before I put my back on it I looked around and yelled, ‘I believe!’ And as I grabbed the bar I yelled ‘I believe’ as my two handlers on the outside made eye contact with each other. Then I pushed the weight off the bar and I pushed it up getting my max and the strongest cornerback was right there when I re-racked it. I jumped up and the whole team hollered ‘I believe! Sanders said, that’s where it started and added he had never shared that story before. He said, “I have a necklace I wear every day that says ‘I believe.’
Later Tuesday evening well after the press conference had ended, Mississippi State University defensive back freshman Javorrius Selman, announced that he would be leaving MSU to play for ‘Coach Prime.’ Selman a Jackson Provine High School football stand-out had already opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic
Jackson businessman Socrates Garret, a loyal Alcorn State University alumnus, commented on the new JSU coach. Garrett said, “I am very excited for not only JSU but for the Jackson community as a whole.” When asked if he felt the JSU Tigers could now easily defeat the Alcorn Braves he responded with a chuckle, “That’s asking a lot of Coach Prime, unless of course, he plans to dress out with the JSU team.”
Hinds County Tax Collector Eddie Fair, a loyal JSU alumnus, said ‘Coach Prime’ may be good for JSU, he’ll be good for bringing people to the stands, he brings a lot of enthusiasm and I am behind him 100%; however, I am a Rick Comegy kind of supporter.” Fair said Comegy proved himself by winning many games for JSU and leading the Tigers to the 2007 SWAC title. Fair said,” I’m reminded of the poem that says ‘I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day, I’d rather one should walk with me than really tell the way.”
JSU has a legendary football program and many fans are looking forward to the team being coached by a legend. In the sixties and seventies, the NFL looked to schools like JSU for players to draft. And even after SEC schools started to recruit players that would have formerly gone to SWAC schools, JSU has managed to produce NFL level players in the eighties, nineties and 2000’s. JSU has produced 93 pro football players and 4 hall of famers. With Coach Prime at the helm a lot of JSU fans are hoping those numbers will go up.