Hall of Famer Deion Sanders returns to college football as head coach at FCS Jackson State

Pro Football and College Football Hall of Fame defensive back Deion Sanders is taking a significant step in his post-playing career. The two-time Super Bowl champion and multi-sport superstar announced early Monday morning that he has agreed to become the next head football coach at FCS Jackson State.

“I am truly blessed to be the 21st Head football coach of Jackson State University,” Sanders said in a release from the school. “This amazing HBCU has always enjoyed a high level of commitment academically and athletically. It’s my desire to continue this storied tradition and history of JSU and prayerfully bring more national recognition to the athletes, the university, the Sonic Boom of the South, and HBCUs in general. I am TRULY proud to be a part of the JSU Tiger family. ‘I BELIEVE'”

Sanders, 53, is currently the offensive coordinator at Trinity Christian High School in Texas and will continue in that role until the end of the team’s season. He coaches his son, Shedeur, a four-star quarterback prospect in the Class of 2021.

“I am thrilled to welcome Deion Sanders to Jackson State University, the City of Jackson, and Mississippi,” athletic director Ashley Robinson said. “Coach Sanders is student-athlete centered and cares about young men and their wellbeing beyond the football field. We expect to compete for and win championships at Jackson State, and Coach Sanders will help us achieve those goals.”

The man known as “Prime Time” announced his career change in the debut episode of his new “21st and Prime” podcast. Also on the show are Robinson and Jackson State University president Thomas Hudson. “God called me to Jackson State,” Sanders said on the show.

When formally introduced as the new Jackson State head coach on Monday, Sanders made a grand entrance, as only he can. https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?creatorScreenName=cbssports&dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1308049306444795905&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cbssports.com%2Fcollege-football%2Fnews%2Fhall-of-famer-deion-sanders-returns-to-college-football-as-head-coach-at-fcs-jackson-state%2F&siteScreenName=cbssports&theme=light&widgetsVersion=219d021%3A1598982042171&width=550px

Sanders has never been a college coach, but it’s a logical time for him to give it a shot with his son off to college after this season. (Shedeur is currently committed to FAU.) Sanders has been up front about his aspirations of coaching at the next level. He explained during an appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show” in January that he would be a college football head coach sooner rather than later. 

Those remarks came after Sanders reportedly emerged as a candidate in Florida State’s coaching search. The Seminoles ultimately hired Mike Norvell from Memphis, but Sanders’ reported candidacy for the job gave fresh life to the idea that he could be a viable candidate for a college opening.

Arkansas at least discussed its opening with Sanders before it ultimately hired Sam Pittman to replace the ousted Chad Morris, sources told CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd. Though a formal interview may not have taken place, there was at least one-way interest on Sanders’ behalf.

Sanders, who played 14 years in the NFL and parts of nine seasons in MLB, is the only man to play in both a Super Bowl and World Series game. He’s an eight-time Pro Bowler and the 1994 NFL Defensive Player of the Year who was previously a standout at Florida State, where he was a two-time consensus All-American. The Seminoles have retired Sanders’ No. 2 jersey.

Sanders has spent the majority of his post-playing career working as an NFL television analyst, first for CBS Sports and then for NFL Network. He left NFL Network for Barstool Sports in August, though his contract reportedly includes a clause that allowed Sanders to pursue a college coaching job, according to the New York Post.

He will face a tough task at Jackson State in turning around a program that hasn’t posted a winning record since 2013. The school parted with John Hendrick in August after his only full season as its coach coach. Hendrick initially took over late in the 2018 season. Overall, he compiled a 6-9 record.

Jackson State plays in the SWAC, which announced in August that it plans to play a six-game conference schedule between late February and late April. Teams will be allowed to schedule one nonconference opponent, and a conference championship game is scheduled for May 1.

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