Few teams have higher expectations to win immediately than Jackson State.
Though the Tigers were not picked to come out on top in the SWAC Eastern Division in the league’s preseason poll, JSU — at least to head coach Deion Sanders — has raised the bar for success in anticipation of a roster that on paper is projected to rival the best in the FCS.
“What are our expectations? asked Sanders during SWAC Media Day. “Not only do you (the press) expect us to win but we expect to win. We’re the only team in the country — in the first year — expected to win it all.”
Jackson State has not won the conference championship since 2007.
Much of the optimism is built on the strength of impressive recruiting classes assembled by Sanders that are among the best in all of college football.
Heading into the fall coming off an up-and-down 4-3 spring season, Jackson State will bring in tow the No. 1 ranked recruiting class in the SWAC and the No. 54 class in the nation overall.
Headlined by his son Shedeur and a host of FBS transfers and high school standouts, the Tigers should be among the favorites to play in the SWAC Championship Game and appear in the Celebration Bowl.
Shedeur, a three-star recruit, spoke Tuesday about how he’s preparing to start as a true freshman under the watchful eye of his father.
“You just got to do what you’ve got to do off the field,” Shedeur Sanders said. “My main thing is whenever you prepare off the field, whenever you watch film, whenever you just work on mechanics and study defensive fronts and everything like that, then it’s easy.”
The elder Sanders, though, affirmed that he will provide the appropriate balance to this football coach-father relationship.
“Well, it’s so funny a minute ago we just walked out and he said ‘Coach Prime.’ And one of the other persons said ‘he calls you coach?’ I said ‘yeah, this is football, and when we’re out of this, I’m dad.’ But long as it’s football, I’m coach,” Sanders said. “I’ve been there his whole life. So this is new to us. We’re just allowing you a chance to see this.”