Some eight months ago, Deion Sanders pointed to the scoreboard inside Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium and shared a candid message to his son Sheduer as the Tigers were being beaten up by eventual SWAC champion Alabama A&M.
“This is never going to happen on your watch,” the first-year coach told his son in the midst of what was a 52-43 loss to the Bulldogs on April 20 that knocked JSU out of the SWAC East race. “I promise you that, and you’re not going to allow it.”
Deion Sanders knew that Shedeur — and other reinforcements who then were ineligible to play in the spring — could immediately transform the football program into an instant contender.
On a chilly November night in Baton Rouge, with the Jackson State offense sputtering well into the fourth quarter, Shedeur Sanders — just a true freshman — would deliver on his father’s prophecy.
Trailing 17-14 with 1:31 left in regulation against a Southern defense that hounded him throughout, Sanders narrowly avoided a sack and uncorked a 50-yard touchdown toss to fellow freshman Malachi Wideman to give the Tigers a 21-17 lead after trailing by 10 points to start the fourth quarter.
Also read: Shedeur Sanders warned months ago Jackson State was coming. It might be too late for the rest of SWAC
Following the score, the young quarterback walked over to his wheelchair-bound father — on the field for the first time in three weeks after recovering from foot surgery complications — and embraced him.
I love yous and tears were exchanged between two who had gone through so much over the last month.
Moments later, it was other Sanders, Shilo, who sealed the first win over Southern in nine tries and SWAC East championship — the first for JSU since 2013 — with an interception on Jaguars’ quarterback Glendon McDaniel’s desperation heave.
The victory means JSU will host the SWAC title game on Dec. 4 against either Alcorn State or Prairie View.
Since that father-son moment in April, the Tigers have gone 10-2.
And it all happened on Sheduer Sanders’ watch.