Jackson State football coach Deion Sanders believes his son, Tigers quarterback Shedeur Sanders, should be considered for the Heisman Trophy this season. On Monday, Deion Sanders launched the campaign.
Shedeur Sanders, a sophomore, is on the Heisman watch list and is a Walter Payton Award candidate (the award given to the best offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision). In four games, Shedeur Sanders has passed for nearly 1,400 yards with 14 touchdowns and one interception, and Jackson State (4-0) is ranked No. 8 in the FCS coaches poll and No. 1 among HBCU programs. Those numbers shouldn't be ignored by Heisman voters, Deion Sanders said, even though they belong to a quarterback and a program outside of the Power Five conferences.
“The quarterback (Shedeur Sanders) should be mentioned upon the Heisman race,” Deion Sanders said during the SWAC weekly media conference call. “That is up to you guys. I want you guys to push those pens and computers and do what you can because when you put his numbers up against those guys in the Power Five, he is doing as much if not more than they are doing right now. When they start talking about Heisman, which I saw before the previous game, I got a little upset because they did not mention us period.”
No player from an HBCU has won the Heisman Trophy.
The only HBCU quarterback to get an invitation to New York for the Heisman award ceremony was Alcorn State's Steve McNair in 1994. McNair put up numbers that have yet to be reached by any other HBCU quarterback. In his senior season, McNair was 356-of-612 passing for 5,377 yards with 47 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He also rushed for 936 yards and nine TDs. McNair finished third in the Heisman voting.
Those are the numbers Shedeur Sanders is chasing. The competition is not against other Football Bowl Subdivision players, but against McNair, fair or unfair. Sanders will have to put up numbers comparable against SWAC competition to get an invitation to the Heisman ceremony.
The favorite to win the Heisman is Alabama sophomore quarterback Bryce Young, last year's winner. Also mentioned frequently are Ohio State quarterback C. J. Stroud, who finished fourth last season, and Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr., who finished fifth.
What hurts Shedeur Sanders' chances is that Jackson State does not play in prime time against marquee teams that Heisman voters can see late in the season. If Jackson State reaches the Celebration Bowl played between the champions of the SWAC and MEAC on ESPN, the game is played on Dec. 17 – a week after the Heisman Trophy is awarded. Shedeur Sanders won't have the opportunity for a "Heisman moment," a la 1991 winner Desmond Howard’s 93-yard punt return for a Michigan touchdown against Ohio State.
10 things we learned from college football's first month: SEC dominance, Pac-12 credibility lead
Bowl projections: Clemson takes Oklahoma's spot in College Football Playoff
Sign up for our sports newsletter: All the sports news you need to know delivered right to you!
Deion Sanders said Jackson State's level of competition shouldn't preclude Shedeur Sanders from winning the Heisman.
“You got to understand that when you look at a player and you look at his skill set, it doesn’t take you long to understand this kid can play at any level," Deion Sanders said. "Travis Hunter (Jackson State cornerback, a five-star recruit) could have played anywhere he wanted to play, and (JSU safety) Shilo (Sanders, also Deion's son) could have played anywhere he wanted to play. ... You can’t tell me, he (Shedeur Sanders) can play in the NFL but he is not good enough to be in the Heisman running. That’s a lie. That’s where I got you. If he’s good enough to play in the NFL, he’s good enough to be on the Heisman ballot.
"The Heisman is based straight on production. They are playing against a level, and we are playing against a level, and we just happen to be dominant.”
This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Deion Sanders thinks son Shedeur should be a Heisman Trophy candidate