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It was once unfathomable for a Number 1 High School recruit to attend an HBCU, but that’s just what Kevin Coleman Jr. recently declared. Widely regarded as the nation’s best high school slot receiver, Coleman Jr. joins a growing list of Black student-athletes who chose to forego traditional college football powerhouses.

The news comes a month after Sanders upset the college football world by getting another top recruit, Travis Hunter, to switch from Florida to Jackson State.

Colleges like Alabama, Georgia, Florida or the like are regularly featured on major networks playing in games seen by millions upon millions. For so long many talented athletes considered PWI’s the quickest path to influential scouts who could then propel them to an NFL roster but like the saying goes, “when you know better, you do better.” 

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Kevin Coleman Jr. (HBCU Gameday)

Prime Time continues to make major moves

2020 was a year of reflection. A lot of us took stock of where we were and what we were doing. Employees began walking out and logging off their jobs, switched careers and figured out what made them happy, oftentimes sacrificing pay for a peace of mind in what’s been dubbed The Great Resignation.

Pro Football Hall of Fam legend Deion Sanders was no different. Having accomplished everything under the NFL Sun, Primetime also decided to switch up his routine and anyone who has followed his stellar career understands when he makes news – it reverberates. 

In the middle of COVID’s first September, Deion announced he would be joining Jackson State University as its new head football coach. Some questioned his move, labeling it a downgrade for the highly acclaimed Sanders who in theory should be able to get any football job in America off the strength of his legendary name alone.

jackson state university deion sanders
Jackson State head football coach Deion Sanders, center, holds the Orange Blossom Classic trophy after winning an NCAA college football game over Florida A&M, Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Jim Rassol)

Creating opportunities by Black people, for Black people

Yet, when you consider that most NFL leadership and head coaching positions reflect the same hiring tendencies and widening gaps that exist in corporate America, it’s easy to understand why Deion chose to forego that route. 

Everything seems impossible until it’s not. 

In less than two years, Coach Deion Sanders has proven to not only be a charismatic recruiter but a consistently winning leader. It hasn’t taken long for the young stars to take notice. This trend seems likely to continue and we can say the obvious but quiet part aloud: People gravitate towards those who they relate to and feel has their best interest at heart. If given the choice between a been-there-done-that Football Icon in Coach Prime and literally any other coach walking the planet, for some, the choice is clearer than a diamond studded earring.  

The next generation of up and coming Black football stars are now seeing a practical pathway to the NFL along with access to their people and our priorities. Acquiring a personality and talent like Sanders is a boost to not only Jackson State but HBCUs at large. Kevin Coleman Jr. is just the latest in line of star athletes to join him in but will most likely not be the last.  

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...