A few weeks ago, Shedeur Sanders walked up to his father, Hall of Fame cornerback and Jackson State football coach Deion Sanders, and asked a simple question.
“Hey, are we ever gonna talk about the obvious?” he asked.
“What’s the plan? What’s the deal?”
“When you’re ready, I’m ready,” his father replied.
So father and son talked for an hour or so.
Sanders demanded the same answers from his father that he demanded of other head coaches: He wanted to know the offensive coordinator, playcaller and quarterbacks coach.
Simply put, Sanders wanted to know his father’s plan for preparing him to be an NFL quarterback.
“This is an investment to his future. This ain’t just football. This ain’t just a game,” Deion Sanders told The Undefeated of his son’s college choice. “He wanted to understand how was he going to be developed.”
When the conversation ended, Sanders told his father he’d let him know whether he was going to stay committed to Florida Atlantic or commit to historically Black Jackson State.
On Nov. 6, Sanders announced via Twitter he had committed to Jackson State, becoming the highest-rated recruit in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Understand, Sanders committed to Florida Atlantic in July and Jackson State hired Deion Sanders as football coach in September. Their conversation didn’t take place for nearly three weeks after Deion Sanders was hired. Sanders can officially sign with Jackson State during the national letter of intent signing period Dec. 16-18.
“That was the elephant in the room,” Sanders told The Undefeated. “I just wanted to go ahead and get the conversation over with and really talk about it.
“He told me his plan. I evaluated the whole program and everything he wanted to do there. The most important thing to me was my development. Basically, I wanted to know who was on the staff, and with the people on the staff I feel like I can get the most development and go to that next level.
“He’s my father and at the end of the day he doesn’t want to influence me or kind of force me to do something. I thought it was good that he didn’t really talk to me about it.”
Sanders, at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, is No. 60 on ESPN’s Top 300 and the second-ranked pro-style quarterback in Texas. He was going to be scrutinized no matter where he played college football.
Jackson State is getting a player who passed for 3,477 yards with 47 touchdowns and four interceptions as a junior at Trinity Christian High School in Cedar Hill, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. As a sophomore, he passed for 3,088 yards with 42 touchdowns and seven interceptions while leading Trinity Christian to consecutive state championships.
Deion Sanders didn’t want to pressure his son. He officially starts as the Jackson State coach in December and his coaching staff is expected to be named by that date.
“I didn’t want to be the sole reason he did what he did. I wanted him to understand the move in its entirety,” Deion Sanders said. “Sometimes, as a father, your son doesn’t hear you as well as he hears others. I think every parent understands that.
“Once he got all of his information and sorted it all out, then he came to me. Once he came to me and said let’s talk about this, then I knew he was ready.”
Sanders understands the spotlight’s glare will be harsher playing college football for his father than it ever was at Trinity Christian, where Deion Sanders is the offensive coordinator. His brother, Shilo Sanders, is a redshirt freshman safety at South Carolina, where he has amassed 24 tackles so far this season.
“Pressure is mental. You know what you’re getting yourself into before you do it,” Sanders said. “As long as you stay prepared, there should be no pressure.”
“It’s a tremendous challenge, but I’ve taught my kids we don’t feel pressure, we put pressure on people.” – Deion Sanders
Now, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s challenging because whatever Sanders does on the football field will always be compared with his father’s feats.
“It’s a tremendous challenge, but I’ve taught my kids we don’t feel pressure, we put pressure on people,” Deion Sanders said. “And I taught them at an early age that pressure ain’t a game. Or performing when people think you can’t.
“Pressure is a single mama trying to make ends meet. Pressure is somebody in the hospital on life support. That’s pressure. Pressure ain’t no game.
“No matter if we win or lose, we’re still going to go back to the same lifestyle. We’ll get in the same car and have the same trappings of life before the game. That’s not pressure.”
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