Deion Sanders leaving Jackson State to be Colorado head coach


Jackson State coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders is the new head coach at Colorado. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Colorado staff was informed via text Saturday night that Sanders is being hired and will have a staff meeting Sunday morning.
  • Sanders has coached Jackson State the past three seasons, compiling a 27-5 record. The Tigers finished the 2022 season 12-0, the first undefeated season in program history.
  • Former Colorado coach Karl Dorrell was fired midway through the 2022 season in his third year with the team.
  • The Buffaloes finished 2022 with a 1-11 record, their worst season since 2012.


Sanders brought a national spotlight to Jackson State and HBCU football during his three seasons leading the Tigers. In December 2021, he won the recruiting battle for five-star cornerback Travis Hunter, the No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2022 who had previously committed to Florida State. Sanders also has family ties to Jackson State, as two of his sons play for the Tigers. Shedeur Sanders is the team’s starting quarterback while defensive back Shilo Sanders transferred from South Carolina to play for his dad.

As an athlete, Sanders played 14 seasons in the NFL, recording 53 interceptions and 22 total touchdowns. “Prime Time” was an eight-time Pro Bowler, six-time Associated Press First-Team All-Pro, 1994 Defensive Player of the Year, two-time Super Bowl champion and first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer.

Colorado parted ways with Dorrell on Oct. 2 after the team suffered a 43-20 loss to Arizona in which the Buffaloes allowed 673 total yards and six passing touchdowns. The program has surpassed five wins in a single season only once over the last 10 years (10-4 in 2016).

In 2020, Mel Tucker departed for Michigan State after just one season in Boulder, and his replacement Dorrell struggled mightily the past two seasons.

Colorado’s major recruiting upgrade

Colorado is about to see a major upgrade in talent, right before the transfer portal opens. This season, Colorado is 63rd nationally in 247Sports’ team talent rankings, which are calculated based on players’ high school recruiting ranking. That is the seventh-lowest team in the Power 5. Meanwhile, Sanders’ Jackson State was not far behind at 68th, and that’s as an FCS program.

Sanders’ son Shedeur, a former four-star recruit, is almost certainly to come. Perhaps cornerback Travis Hunter, a former No. 1 overall recruit, could come as well. Sanders can now get Colorado in the door of every recruit. Considering the kind of talent Sanders could get to Jackson State, the talent level at Colorado is about to get a huge boost. –Vannini

What they’re saying

Colorado athletic director Rick George said Sanders will bring the Buffaloes “back to national prominence” in a Saturday night statement.

“There were a number of highly qualified and impressive candidates interested in becoming the next head football coach at Colorado, but none of them had the pedigree, the knowledge and the ability to connect with student-athletes like Deion Sanders,” George said. “Not only will Coach Prime energize our fanbase, I’m confident that he will lead our program back to national prominence while leading a team of high quality and high character.”

Required reading

(Photo: Charles A. Smith / Jackson State University via Getty Images)


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