Pro Football Hall of Fame member Deion Sanders was named the head football coach at Jackson State on Monday in a ceremony befitting of the flashy player known as “Prime Time” throughout his career.
Sanders arrived at the arena at the school in Jackson, Miss., in a Cadillac Escalade, which followed the marching band and a police escort onto the arena floor.
After being introduced as the Tigers’ coach, an emotional Sanders addressed the audience.
“These are tears that — you don’t understand the prayers that has been made. These are tears that has accompanied me through this journey. These are tears of satisfaction,” he said. “These are tears of joy, passion.”
While Jackson State last week denied rumors that Sanders, 53, would take over the program, he announced the news Sunday on the debut episode of his podcast “21st & Prime.”
“God called me to Jackson State,” Sanders said, according a transcription from the Clarion Ledger.
“It’s very big for Jackson State University,” athletic director Ashley Robinson said, per the newspaper. “Not only for Jackson State University, this is very big for the country right now. Very big for the state of Mississippi. To Coach Prime, Jackson State University — a blue blood program full of Hall of Famers — it’s just a great time.”
Sanders had been working as the offensive coordinator at Trinity Christian High School in Desoto, Texas, where his son, Shedeur, plays.
He replaces John Hendrick, who was let go last month after a 24-34 record in two seasons at Jackson State, which competes in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. The league postponed the fall football season until the spring and plans to start play in February.
This is the third big-name hire among schools in the state since the end of the 2019 season. Mississippi brought Lane Kiffin on board in December, and Mississippi State followed with the hiring of Mike Leach in January.
Sanders played 14 seasons in the NFL after a standout career at Florida State. He was a six-time All-Pro defensive back and an eight-time Pro Bowl selection with the Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Washington and the Baltimore Ravens. He won two Super Bowl rings.
Sanders also played Major League Baseball for parts of nine seasons with the New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants.
Jackson State has a football pedigree that includes producing three Pro Football Hall of Fame members, three College Football Hall of Fame players and two Hall of Fame coaches. Walter Payton, Jackie Slater and Lem Barney are among the former players for the Tigers.