Jackson State’s Travis Hunter and Deion Sanders bonded over a mutual curiosity — Andscape

JACKSON, Miss. — The second Travis Hunter slipped on a blue and white Jackson State baseball cap and unveiled a navy blue IBelieve T-shirt hidden beneath his jacket, the rumors began.

Everyone, it appeared, had a idea on why the No. 2 recruit within the ESPN High 300 dedicated to JSU. Many of the hypothesis on faculty message boards and sports activities discuss radio centered on cash, as critics assumed JSU brokered a seven-digit identify, picture and likeness deal or delivered a briefcase full of money to his household.

In fact, none of that occurred.

Hunter signed with JSU for 3 causes: He idolized coach Deion Sanders, Sanders earned his mom’s belief, and he had solid a relationship with Sanders constructed on their love of bass fishing.

Roll your eyes for those who should. It’s true. Sanders, who typically refers to himself as Nation Prime, loves fishing and hasn’t had a house with no fishing pond in many years.

Positive, Sanders and Hunter mentioned soccer.

In spite of everything, the San Francisco 49ers had been the favourite staff of Hunter’s dad and Hunter has spent hours Sanders’ video games and highlights on YouTube. Plus, they talked about how he’d match into JSU’s scheme.

Additionally they talked about Hunter turning into a two-way participant like Sanders was for the Dallas Cowboys in 1996, when he turned the primary NFL participant to take action since Chuck Bednarik in 1960.

And so they mentioned methods Hunter might market himself, and what Sanders might train him about creating a private model.

However it was their conversations about fishing that cemented the bond.

“We all know it was about soccer, however we didn’t maintain that the primary focus,” Hunter mentioned. “We wish to fish. We’d ship footage to one another. I’m a straight bass fisherman.”

Perceive, Hunter has liked fishing since his older cousin T.J. taught him how as a child.

“In Georgia, in case you have a fishing pole, you’ll find a creek or a park to fish,” mentioned Ferrante Edmonds, Hunter’s mom. “I’d take him to Rhodes Jordan Park or Rabbit Hill Park, and I’d learn or train whereas he was fishing.”

Sanders is all the time prepared to speak fishing, and he’s ceaselessly trying to find a high quality fishing gap.

“We despatched loads of footage,” Sanders mentioned with a chuckle.

Edmonds can attest to that.

“I’d hear them speaking and laughing,” she mentioned. “Deion would ship an image, then Travis would ship him one.”

Edmonds taught her two oldest sons — Travis and Trayvis — to be impartial, in order that they realized to prepare dinner, do laundry and clear up the home as kids.

She favored Sanders’ easy way of living and soccer.

“Deion is strictly what he wants,” Edmonds mentioned. “You need somebody who will pour into your little one — not simply in soccer however in life. When you will have somebody guiding you off the sphere, that’s actual.”

Nonetheless, Hunter is at Jackson State to be an elite soccer participant.

When you will have a participant with as a lot hype as Hunter has acquired, it may be onerous to match it. However for the five-star recruit, it’s been no downside.

He has the work ethic coaches love and teammates respect. He has expertise that makes coaches drool and teammates envious. And he’s already gone viral for making a diving, one-handed interception on the objective line in observe.

“The child needs to be nice,” Sanders mentioned. “He needs to work. He likes to work.

“One in all our first practices, he didn’t run full velocity to chase the ball, so I instructed him about it. That’s it. One time. He’s been sprinting to the ball ever since.”

Hunter mentioned he is aware of Sanders is an old-school coach who doesn’t enable earrings within the facility and says being quarter-hour early to conferences is on time.

JSU has quick practices, normally 90 minutes, however Sanders needs his gamers intense and centered.

“He caught me loafing one time. He instructed me to not do it once more or I wasn’t going to be on the sphere,” Hunter mentioned. “I simply manned up and stopped loafing.

“It didn’t really feel like I used to be loafing, but when he says I’m loafing, then I’m loafing,” Hunter continued. “I’m a terrific listener. I’m not going to speak again. I’m simply going to let [his words] sink in. I’m not simply going to snap.”

Throughout one in every of Hunter’s first practices, every of Jackson State’s high receivers referred to as him out. Kevin Coleman, the seventh-ranked receiver within the ESPN High 300, was one of many gamers. They met at Florida State, which was recruiting every of them. When Hunter flipped to Jackson State, Coleman determined to affix him. He had additionally been contemplating USC, Miami and Oregon.

“I felt like he made an uncomfortable transfer, despite the fact that he was comfy with it,” Coleman mentioned. “So I wished him to know he wasn’t alone. I felt like God was telling me to return be a part of one thing particular along with your brother. Don’t go away him hanging. I wished to let him know he’s not alone.”

Hunter gained every observe rep that day.

“He bought all of them,” defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman mentioned with fun. “He’s aggressive. He’s powerful. He don’t care. He’s a dawg. If he loses one rep, he’s going proper again up there the following time.”

And it doesn’t matter whether or not we’re speaking offense or protection.

“He’ll lock down a receiver,” mentioned tight ends coach Michael Pollock, “then play receiver and beat the defensive backs he was simply with.”

Hunter confirmed precisely what he can do by dominating JSU’s blue and white spring sport with a 25-yard reverse, landing receptions of 9 and 80 yards, and a pair of interceptions.

“I used to be going to save lots of him for Miami, however this ain’t about me,” Sanders mentioned of permitting Hunter to play each methods. “That is about him and getting him comfy within the position he’s going to have and letting him do his factor. It don’t matter if FAMU is aware of, they nonetheless should cope with him.”

So will each different staff on JSU’s schedule.

Jean-Jacques Taylor, a local of Dallas, is an award-winning journalist who has coated the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL for 25 years and is president of JJT Media Group.

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