Breaking Down Deion Sanders's First Recruiting Class at Jackson State

SI All-American

Deion Sanders and his Jackson State staff have recruited 2021’s top FCS recruiting class, arguably the best recruiting class in recent HBCU history. 

They have some 30 prospects, including nine transfers from the Power 5, coming into the program in the coming months. Seven of JSU's 11 high school recruits picked the program after making a previous commitment to another, including two previously committed to Florida and Florida Atlantic. In short, belief in the future of the SWAC school in football threw a wrinkle into FBS recruiting. 

As JSU kicks off its spring season, SI All-American highlights some of the best incoming Tigers.

Jackson State bagged a couple of junior college defensive linemen, as one may expect of a program located in the JUCO-dominant state of Mississippi. Rasheed Lyles, out of Trinity Valley C.C. (Athens, Texas), and Jammie White, out of Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C. (Decatur, Ga.), are a pair we would tag like many of these recruits in what will be a re-built roster—likely to be immediately inserted into the JSU rotation. 

The JUCO addition that reminded the nation of the programs potential was with the most coveted defensive back in the country in De’Jahn Warren. The Lackawanna C.C. (Scranton, Pa.) talent flipped his commitment from the Georgia Bulldogs, where he was expected to compete for immediate playing time after the turnover in Athens following the 2020 season. Instead, we'll expect the 6-foot Warren to step into a starting role immediately for the Tigers and we will, of course, keep a close eye on Prime Time’s own position group considering it should be the easiest position to sell on the recruiting trail. 

Five of the incoming JSU prospects hail from the JUCO ranks and if there is a sleeper among them, consider the versatile JD Martin. The former high school quarterback missed his senior season due to a torn ACL and ended up at Florida Atlantic before a transfer to East Central, where he worked as a running back and put in top 10 numbers nationally in in rushing yards and yards per game. Heading into his second year in town he was listed as a pre-season All-American before the pandemic-condensed season began. Martin is a play-maker with the ball in his hands and can be utilized in multiple spots at the FCS level. 

From the prep ranks, Allah Brown of Valdosta (Valdosta, Ga.) played a ton of slot receiver in high school, but his hops combined with ability to compete for contested passes are a wrinkle to his game not very common in slots. Similar can be said of former Florida commit Trevonte Rucker, of Vanguard HS (Ocala, Fla.). The slender athlete is perhaps the most lethal weapon among JSU's incoming pass-catchers, and will be tracked along with the optical jewel of the class in quarterback Shedur Sanders. Having been coached by his father at Trinity Christian (Cedar Hill, Texas), there is a particular continuity and expectation on the signal caller, once committed to Willie Taggart and FAU, at the next level.

Related: Rucker talks JSU, Deion Sanders and more

The Tigers can really get creative with Las Vegas defensive lineman Braeshon Ross, out of Desert Pines High School. Ross rushed with success from all over the line in high school. He has some classic tools that a good defensive line coach hones in on: length, speed, and above all else, motor.

The foundation of a solid offensive line is in the works, too. Javonte Gardner of Jones HS (Orlando, Fla.) passed up on numerous SEC offers to join the trenches in Jackson. Sanders secured this former Gator in addition to signing guard James Reddick II, out of Peach County (Fort Valley, Ga.), and tackle Charles Armstrong from Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.), a former Arizona State pledge. 

In looking at some of the traditional transfers heading to JSU, there are plenty of familiar names for those who follow recruiting. Shilo Sanders, a former Under Armour All-American defensive back who saw playing time at South Carolina, is set to play for his father's program. He has ability at safety, corner or nickel depending on the scheme the Tigers trot out with Sunday. That news followed the first big transfer of the Sanders era in fellow SEC defensive back Javorrius Selmon, who comes from Mississippi State. 

Four of the transfer prospects are listed as wide receivers by 247Sports, including Keith Corbin from Houston, who hauled in 27 passes for 352 yards for the Cougars in 2020. Isaiah Bolden has two-way ability at wideout or defensive back, where has played in all 13 games for Florida State in 2019.  Shane Hooks is a big-bodied, 6-foot-4 talent originally from the Sunshine State. 

The trenches were upgraded through the transfer portal, too, including bookend tackle types in Dylan Spencer (Missouri) and Maljon Joor (Florida International) but there's no doubt the most intriguing is former Auburn defensive lineman Coynis Miller. Another former Under Armour All-American, he was among the most coveted interior defensive line prospects in America out of the class of 2018 but never really got traction on the Plains before leaving the program in September. There is no bigger boom or bust future JSU Tiger than Miller, who has elite athleticism and raw tools at the position. 

Jackson State kicks off the spring season Sunday versus Edward Waters.

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