After missing three-straight games due to his ongoing recovery from September foot surgery and subsequent hospitalization as part of his rehabilitation, Deion Sanders could be poised for a return to the sidelines this weekend.
An update on Jackson State's head coach was provided Monday by Tigers interim leader Gary Harrell during the Southwestern Athletic Conference's weekly Zoom videoconference.
“Coach Prime is doing well,” Harrell told reporters. “He's still in great spirits. I talked to him (Sunday) night, he's still planning on being here, hopefully this game but at least by next week.
“He's taking his time and I think he likes how things are going, how things are flowing, He still has the confidence and the belief that we can do the things that he believes in doing and carrying out those assignments.”
Jackson State, up to No. 15 nationally in the American Football Coaches Association poll and off to a blistering 8-1 start in Sanders' first full season atop the program, is scheduled to travel Saturday to SWAC rival Southern University for a night game in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Harrell says his focus is on the program's day-to-day tasks and maintaining Sanders' standard during the absence of 'Coach Prime,' which has included an extended hospital stay for Sanders since he announced weeks ago that his “team of doctors” had advised him to stay off the sidelines and focus on a full recovery.
“Coach Prime, you just never know [if he can attend in person this weekend],” Harrell said. “We have a meeting today, and I'm going to speak to him later on. It's still on how things are going, what the doctors order and Coach Prime. We just don't have all the information. I'll be honest, we just don't get all the info. We want to make sure Coach Prime [is well] and respect his wishes in this time and his family.
“We want to try to do our part here and let Coach Prime take care of what he's got going on, he's really right now taking care of Coach Prime.”
The Tigers, without a loss in SWAC play, are trying to finish out an unbeaten season against Football Championship Subdivision foes and earn their first league title since 2007, as well as a first-ever berth in the Celebration Bowl.
“Folks don'ts realize we've been here just pretty much over a year; it feels like 2 or 3 years,” Harrell said. “During this time we were able to get some things in place to put us in this position.
“We just want to go ahead and finish the process. .. it's important that we complete this mission bc Coach Prime came in and saw some things that a lot of folks didn't think was possible. He saw the invisible so we can go do the impossible. We want to make sure we back him up.”
Harrell has felt Sanders' trust to run the program during Sanders' absence but knows the head man has missed the program.
“It's just a blessing that he trusts us as he goes throughout this process,” Harrell said. “I appreciate you asking, but he's doing well. He's doing well. Trust me, he's missing not being here physically, but he's going through a lot as far as just not being here.
“He definitely wants to be here with guys on gameday and as we continue this championship run.”
Sanders Tweeted a motivational message on Monday, one of his rare social media messages since he announced Oct. 20 that he needed to step away from his Jackson State program.