Cornerback Travis Hunter, widely regarded as the top prospect in the class of 2022, shocked the football world Wednesday after flipping on his commitment to Florida State and signing with Jackson State.
It’s one of the most incredible recruiting shockers in recent memory, as Jackson State wasn’t even listed as a possibility for Hunter on his ESPN scouting page. However, the school has something nobody else can offer: Deion Sanders.
Hunter traveled to Jackson State on November 20 and saw Jackson State beat Alcorn State, meeting with Sanders after the game and experiencing the atmosphere of the program.
This is unquestionably an example of Sanders’ effect on the program. It’s a dose of star power few other schools can replicate, and especially for a cornerback it has to be intriguing to have the opportunity to be coached by one of the greatest to ever play the position. That ended up being the difference maker, with Hunter spurning some of the biggest schools in the nation to join the small Jackson State program.
More importantly, this is potentially a huge boon for HBCUs. There has existed a huge power imbalance in college football between top players, who are overwhelmingly black, having to choose traditional large schools over HBCUs because of exposure. New NIL rules, paired with someone like Sanders’ notoriety could potentially lead to more top recruits choosing to commit to HBCUs over traditional FBS powerhouse programs. This is turn would lead to better TV deals, with networks wanting to showcase the best players in the nation, and could have a huge effect on the sport as a whole.
It could also be a one-off situation, because it’s not like every HBCU has the star power of Sanders behind the program. So this could also be a one-off.
Those are a lot of “coulds” and “maybes” right now, but the immediate effect is Hunter arriving at Jackson State. The 6’1” corner out of Suwanee, Georgia has ideal size for the position, and unreal athleticism that already has scouts saying not only that he’ll be a 1st round NFL Draft pick assuming there are no setbacks at the college level, but comparing him to legends like Charles Woodson. Under Sanders’ tutelage that could only progress further, and a small Mississippi HBCU could have a generational talent on their hands coveted by the likes of Alabama, Georgia and dozens of other big-name schools.
It’s OFFICIAL #jsu #gotigers @jacksonstatefb pic.twitter.com/UTyzMPgVH6— Travis Hunter (@TravisHunterJr) December 15, 2021
Nobody ever expected this, and it’s awesome.