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Deion Sanders' Jackson State program just hosted 200 recruits; Sanders also says the SWAC could become an FCS Playoffs contender

Jackson State coach Deion Sanders has elevated his program's profile and that of the league. After a jam-packed homecoming weekend full of recruits, Sanders has said he eyes more -- on and off the field.

Chrome helmets that sparkled in the Magnolia State sun.

A homecoming-weekend attendance record.

Not to mention the scoreboard, which reflected a 28-7 pasting of rival Alabama State.

And, oh yeah, some 200 recruits in yet another element of the unprecedented festivities for Deion Sanders' Jackson State football program.

Turns out, as Sanders explained this week on the Southwestern Athletic Conference's weekly head coaches' video conference, the Tigers could have hosted even more recruits for their weekend spectacular.

And this, of course, after JSU already under Sanders secured the program's all-time highest-rated recruiting class.

“You know, I'm on my scooter so I can't get around much,” Sanders said. “I try my best ride down the sideline and end zone and really shake (recruits') hands. I think we accommodated 200; I know we had requests for 345, to be exact, because I care about those types of numbers to see if we can accommodate more.

“I think we had several on official visits that had great visits. You couldn't ask for more, official visit to see that atmosphere, to see the fanfare and that culture to see what we presented and to win. It was phenomenal. I'm ecstatic about the homecoming.”

Ecstatic, but unsatisfied. For all of Sanders' braggadocio and in-your-face tactics, the Florida State and Pro Football hall of famer does not establish modest goals.

He sees the Jackson State homecoming outpouring, and Sanders wants more.

“I just wish we, some kind of way, can translate that feeling, that atmosphere, that mood into every week,” Sanders said of the JSU-record crowd of 53,578 for a homecoming game inside Memorial Stadium. “That's what the Power 5s do. The numbers we had, we're extremely thankful. But what about this week (when JSU hosts Bethune-Cookman)? Do we digress or do we push forward and say this needs to be normalcy. It shouldn't just be homecoming.

“I know finances play major role in economic understanding of our people. I wish we could get to the point where 53,000 is the expectation, week in and week out. That affects the economy that affects so much. Hotels are all packed, restaurants are all packed. The state and the city make so much more revenue.”

Sanders, whose squad has surged into the Football Championship Subdivision national top 25 rankings, also praised his personal first-ever Historically Black College and University homecoming weekend as something of a cathartic experience.

“I really want you to understand because, shoot how can I say this eloquently, I'm trying not to go too real. I gotta remember I'm a coach,” Sanders said. “I've been amongst my people all my life but not amongst my people. So just seeing everything and being amongst my people involved with my people, it's totally different than when you're on the field and performing. I'm helping building, to magnify, to construct, to enlarge, to improve everything I'm doing amongst my people. I'm getting an opportunity to indulge in it. I drove down 'The Yard,' – what's it called? – the whole strip. Down the whole strip of the university.

“It was peace man. We didn't have no ignorance. No foolishness. I loved every minute of it and embraced it in its totality.”

Sanders also hinted at greater postseason potential – for both his program and the residents of the SWAC. His Tigers have positioned themselves to be the SWAC Eastern Division representative at the annual Celebration Bowl, hosted by Atlanta's Mercedes Stadium.

He was asked if not presently being positioned to compete in the FCS Playoffs was a negative.

“I don't think that's a downside; I think that's a blessing because that's the structure that we're playing within,” Sanders said. “Sure my mind thinks larger. Sure my mind thinks bigger. Sure I want to play and be able to challenge for it al. Sure I think like that; you know me. But I'm going to play and be thankful and appreciative of the structure we have until we start to stand up and change the structure that we have.

“And I'm pretty sure you're going to be hearing about that soon. But no, no; I'm happy, I'm elated to have that opportunity and where is that game, if we're blessed to be in that game? They said if you win it all, you've got an opportunity to go play in Atlanta and I said, 'Lord, I thank you.'”

The Celebration Bowl has a seven-figure payout, but per SWAC sources, the league could explore a method to maintain its prestigious postseason bowl game but also have a qualified team have an opportunity to earn a postseason-playoffs bid.