In the 1960s and ’70s, HBCUs were often the only option for black players to play college football, and those colleges regularly sent elite players to the NFL, and the American Football League, the NFL’s challenge at the time.
The Tigers sent about 90 players to the pros from the 1960s to the early 2000s, but, like many HBCUs, faced limited resources while competing against Power Five programs with huge athletic budgets. failed to attract the same level of talent as they once did. Fewer HBCU players have been drafted to the pros in recent years (none in the 2021 draft), something Sanders vowed to change when he arrived at Jackson State.
Brandon Huffman, national recruiting editor for 247Sports, said of Hunter’s commitment, “This could be a great revival, a great renaissance for HBCU.” “And I think it all goes back to Dion.”
During his first recruiting cycle with the Tigers in 2020, Sanders pulled off one of the most shocking commitments to that point, flipping former Georgia pledge D’Jon Warren, one of the nation’s top junior college cornerbacks. there was one. The first day of last year’s initial signing period.
Sanders had assembled the highest-ranked class in the Football Championship subdivision, the level of Division I where Jackson State plays. The Tigers’ 2020 class featured 19 transfers and the 11 highest-rated recruits in the program’s history, including their son, Shadyur Sanders, a four-star recruit.
“This is one that could change the whole face of recruiting as we know it,” Huffman said in an interview.
Some have speculated that a lucrative financial deal drew Hunter to Jackson State, where Sanders has tried to help his players benefit from his name, image, and likeness since the NCAA. Established a rule change earlier this year allowing college athletes to make money from their fame, If this was a factor in Hunter’s decision to commit to the Tigers, it could herald an era in which players sign with smaller schools only for the ability to sign NIL deals.