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Deion Sanders: College football recruiting has forever changed

Coach Prime says colleges will continue to leave high school players unsigned; advocates for greater resources for HBCU schools' recruiting efforts

His 2021 class was considered the best recruiting haul in school history and one of the all-time best at the Football Championship Subdivision level.

Then, he added nearly 20 additional players with Power 5 and/or major college experience, including transfers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee and the University of Southern California, among others.

The Tigers are 3-1, with a pair of FCS wins against Florida A&M and Tennessee State, an NCAA Division II win against Delta State and a narrow, 12-7 defeat to FBS resident Louisiana-Monroe.

So Deion Sanders' roster construction in his first year atop the Jackson State football program certainly is drawing attention.

Yet Sanders says the art of recruiting is ever-changing, more nuanced than ever and completely shifted away from its roots of just a few short years ago.

“Recruiting is different now,” Sanders said this week on the Southwestern Athletic Conference coaches' video conference. “It's not like it used to be. When you talk about recruiting, you've got to break this thing down in three.

“You're talking about grad transfers, you're talking just guys in the Portal and you're talking about high school guys. What's your needs? What's your dern needs? What do you need right now? Do you have the time and is your college going to give you the time to develop these young men out of high school? Because that's predominantly, let's just say at the best, that's a two-year process.”

It's Sanders' latter point – high school development in a less-than-patient era – that he most believes is forever altering the college recruiting paradigm.

“Long gone is the day where you're going to find 25 kids out of high school and bring them in and develop them,” Sanders said. “That's over. Nobody's ever going to do that again. So those high school numbers are going to be down, down, down. Because you would rather risk a guy that's already in a program that you have seen on film and on the tape at the collegiate level.”

To Sanders' point, just since Monday more than 30 players, including from ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC programs, are now in the NCAA's Transfer Portal.

There also is the just-passed NCAA Division I Council's approval from the Football Oversight Committee to expand signing classes up to as many as 32 student-athletes to help mitigate roster depletion due to transfers.

“Now, grad-transfers that's immediately impacting. You're looking for immediate impact and guys in the Portal that you think can help your team,” said Sanders. “Now you've got to do your homework and understand why are they in the Portal and what luggage are they bringing and can you deal with that kind of baggage?

“Because they could consequently help your team but they can hurt your team and disarm your team as well.”

Regardless the pursuit of high school prospects or those coming from various collegiate programs, Sanders is eyeing greater resources – both for his program and the other Historically Black College and Universities against which the Tigers compete.

“Recruiting, I hate that our budgets are what they are in the HBCUs,” Sanders said. “Hopefully we can up that with the television contracts and more popularity and more things that we can bring to the table.

“Financially, it's ridiculous. It's ridiculous. But we've got to do the best that we can do to get those kids to HBCUs.”