JACKSON, Miss. a bit like auld langsyne ,Deion Sanders flowed with all kinds of energy, positivity, philosophies and, well, style, as he sat in his office at the Walter Payton Center and assessed the state of “Coach Prime.That’s what everybody calls him at Jackson State, the moniker emblazoned right there on the nameplate on his desk. “Prime Time” was the tag for other times and places marking the persona and impact attached to his brilliance together of the best athletes in history but Coach Prime has its own multiple layers of meaning.
Yeah, it’s a noun, but it's going to be more of verb, given the action live . it's a nickname and a message as Sanders seeks to revive the football program — and more — at an HBCU school with a replacement sort of relevance.“Don’t tell me what we will ’t do, tell me what we can,” he declares, wearing a skull cap imprinted with the “I Believe” slogan that has become ubiquitous in these parts.
Sanders, 53, insists he's here, right now, because it's nothing but a spiritual calling.“I was getting to coach. on the other hand when our country just took that left turn with equality and justice, and with the social unrest last year … I just heard that voice in my head and felt my spirit that said, ‘This is it,’ ” Sanders told USA TODAY Sports.
Before the announcement on Sept. 21 that he would become Jackson State’s fifth head coach since 2013, Sanders (who coached on the highschool level in Texas after operating an elite youth program for several years) discussed the likelihood for nearly a year with athletic director Ashley Robinson.“As stuff transpired, it had been a simple navigation in thinking why I had to try to to it,” he said. “The kids. The community. The vision. The hope. Then you begin compiling that with the town of Jackson …“It was one among those things where it had been a calling, and that i had to answer.”
Jackson State, the SWAC and therefore the universe of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) undoubtedly need him now. That much is clear by the exposure Sanders has commanded during a spring season the SWAC engineered after shutting down the autumn campaign in 2020 thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
Jackson State, the SWAC (Southwestern Athletic Conference) and therefore the universe of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) undoubtedly need him now. That much is clear by the exposure Sanders has commanded during a spring season the SWAC engineered after shutting down the autumn campaign in 2020 thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
Vision for enhancing a city
No surprise, there's no shortage of ideas coming from Sanders as he envisions success. He has long been a master strategist. Remember, well before he entered the NFL in 1989 because the fifth pick within the draft, Sanders planned out an idea to boost the profile and earning power of defensive backs … then backed it up together with his talent.
Now the strategies involve big-picture visions that go way beyond producing a team ok to win a SWAC crown. He wants to ascertain more HBCU teams in college bowl games. He wants to stay the momentum flowing with the recent national TV dates, sensing how the exposure can create opportunities for the simplest players on opposing teams, as well, to play on subsequent level.Shoot, he wants to be a player, too, in boosting a city that recently drew national attention for its water crisis.
“Before you allow , just take a drive all the way round the school,” Sanders urged, pertaining to the decaying neighborhood on the outskirts of the campus. “You’ll say, ‘Oh my God.’ We’ve need to revitalize these things , man. There’s tons of revitalization that i might like to do. i might like to get with an incredible contractor and revitalize all of this round the school. One has got to care that much.”
According to The Clarion Ledger, 25% of the 166,000 residents in Mississippi’s capital live below the poverty level , and therefore the median household income is $38,000. Mayor Chokwe Lumumba said the town has suffered from “cycles of humiliation” reflected by an under-funded and poorly performing educational system, a failing infrastructure, poverty and a high rate .
Mindful of Jackson State’s impact on the local economy — and on the local culture — Lumumba sees Sanders’ arrival as a “shot within the arm,” with the coach’s optimism for the football program running on a track parallel to his visions for the town .“It was clear when he arrived that he wanted to be quite a coach ,” Lumumba told USA TODAY Sports. “What that says to me is that he gets it.”
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