In addition to collecting a growing number of top, blue-chip football recruits who have spurned big time, blue blood college programs, Jackson State’s star quarterback has signed a historic partnership with Gatorade, a first for an HBCU, and any other university.
It was announced Thursday that Shedeur Sanders signed the NIL partnership that gave the sports drink company the rights to use the nearly 20-year-old’s name, image and likeness in exchange for a likely lucrative payday. The deal is good for several years, though the exact terms were not immediately announced.
The NCAA began allowing college players to make money off their own likenesses for the first time this past summer.
The partnership was well deserved for the young talent who took HBCU football by storm in his inaugural season.
As a freshman, Sanders — who is coached by his famous father, hall of fame Deion Sanders — led the Tigers to a SWAC title and a spot in the HBCU national championship. He won the Jerry Rice Award for the top freshman in FCS football after leading his program to its first 11-win season in school history, making him the first HBCU player to ever win the award that is named for an HBCU graduate.
Under Sheduer’s leadership, Jackson State won its first SWAC championship since 2007 and played in its first ever Celebration Bowl appearance. For good measure, he also threw for 3,056 yards, 29 touchdowns and six interceptions while completing 68 percent of his passes this season.
His success has coincided with a serious rise in Jackson State’s profile in college football.
The Tigers have managed to successfully recruit a pair of top-rated high school players in the nation — players who were recruited by perennial top programs at predominately white institutions.
Travis Hunter, who is the consensus #1 high school football recruit, last month chose the Tigers in dramatic fashion while simultaneously turning down a scholarship offer from powerhouse Florida State University, Deion Sanders’ alma mater.
“Florida State has always been a beacon for me. I grew up down there, that’s where my roots are, and I never doubted that I would play for the Seminoles,” Travis Hunter wrote in a social media post announcing his decision. “It’s a dream that is hard to let go of, but sometimes we are called to step into a bigger future than the one we imagined for ourselves. For me, that future is at Jackson State University.”
About a month later, Kevin Coleman Jr., the top-ranked slot receiver in the nation and the number 11 ranked recruit in the country, followed suit and chose the Tigers, as well.
Coleman Jr. committed to Jackson State without even visiting the campus, underscoring the HBCU’s growing influence in the ultra-competitive high school recruiting space.
Shedeur Sanders was the first HBCU player to sign an NIL, but with Jackson State’s impressive accumulation of top players, chances are that he won’t be the last Tiger to do so.