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Monday, August 8, 2022

Travis Hunter, a top-ranked recruit, has committed to Jackson State under Deion Sanders

Jackson State Coach Deion Sanders gave a hint the day before the opening of college football’s early signing window, which is the time in which the nation’s top high school prospects may sign their national letters of intent to play at the universities of their choosing.

Travis Hunter, the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2022 according to 247Sports.com, was lured away from Florida State, Sanders’ alma mater, in less than 24 hours, marking one of the most significant signings in the modern era of college football recruiting. Hunter was formerly committed to Florida State before committing to Jackson State.

In a statement released Wednesday, Hunter, a 6-foot-1 cornerback who had been verbally committed to Florida State for over two years, said that he had changed his mind.

Everyone at Collins Hill High School in Suwanee, Georgia, knows Hunter is committed to Florida State. “Everyone knows I’m going to Florida State,” Hunter stated in front of a crowded audience. He purchased a hat that was imprinted with the Georgia Bulldogs emblem. Many believed that if Hunter were to change his mind about his pledge, he would opt to return to his home state.

In college football, there are few days that are more significant than signing day, when players sign their legally binding agreements that cover their attendance and give financial assistance. Signing day is generally marked by a spectacle of glitzy press conferences, pep rallies, and curveballs.

It has become normal practise for players to switch their commitments from one institution to another on the day of signing. As more of the nation’s top athletes take advantage of the early signing period, which began a couple of years ago and allows players to sign their letters of intent ahead of the traditional signing period, which begins in February, the recruiting process has accelerated as more of the nation’s top athletes take advantage of those few days in December to finalise their decisions before the traditional signing period begins in February.

Hunter said in a statement posted Wednesday afternoon that he had changed his mind about attending Jackson State because it would enable him to “lead the path for others to follow.” As he said, “you’ll make it a bit simpler for the next player to see that HBCUS may be all you’ve been looking for and more.”

It is more than just the on-field talent that Hunter, an undrafted five-star prospect, brings to a Jackson State team that finished first in the Southwestern Athletic Conference in 2021; his decision sets a precedent that could have a long-term impact on high school basketball recruiting, and is a direct result of Sanders’ impact at Jackson State since his arrival in September 2020.

With the help of Sanders, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a programme that had been a long way from the days when it, along with other historically Black universities, served as a fruitful conduit to the professionals has been transformed.

Although they sent nearly 90 players to the pros between the early 1960s and the beginning of the new millennium, they, like many other historically black colleges and universities (H.B.C.U.s), faced with limited resources while competing against Power Five programmes with enormous athletic budgets, failed to attract the same level of talent that they once did in recent years. Fewer High School Boys’ Collegiate athletes have been selected into the NBA in recent years (there will be no H.B.C.U. players in the 2021 draught), something Sanders promised to rectify upon his arrival at Jackson State University.

Sanders pulled off one of the most shocking commitments in recent memory during his first recruiting cycle with the Tigers in 2020, flipping former Georgia pledge De’Jahn Warren, who had been regarded as one of the nation’s top junior college cornerbacks, on the first day of the early signing period last year. Sanders was named to the All-American team in both football and basketball during his first recruiting cycle with the Tigers in 2020.

It has been speculated that Hunter was lured to Jackson State by a lucrative financial offer. Since the National Collegiate Athletic Association (N.C.A.A.) instituted a rule change allowing college athletes to profit from their fame earlier this year, Sanders has attempted to assist his players in profiting from their name, image, and likeness. If it played a role in Hunter’s choice to commit to the Tigers, it might herald the beginning of a new age in which players choose smaller colleges only for the possibility of signing N.I.L. contracts.

In his statement, Huffman predicted that the shift will enable more major businesses to pursue sponsorship arrangements with athletes rather than direct links with universities.

Dan O'Brien
I am a journalist for The National Era with an emphasis in sports.
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