In the last few weeks, Coach Deion Sanders has made headlines by bringing the top recruits in the nation to Jackson State University. The first shocker was the news that Travis Hunter, the number one defensive back prospect in the country, was headed to Jackson State, where he is expected to play on both sides of the ball. Kevin Coleman, another one of the nation‘s top offensive weapons, made his commitment to Jackson State known this past weekend at the All-American Bowl. These signings sent shockwaves through the college football landscape. However, in the Cricket Celebration Bowl the biggest issue ailing the Tigers was the lack of an offensive line. South Carolina Defensive End Jeblonski Green mentioned Jackson State’s lack of continuity on the offensive line and felt it was one of their advantages going into the game.
Coach Prime admitted recently in an interview with Rich Eisen, that the biggest divider between HBCU teams and Power 5 schools is in the trenches. He also stated in his post game press conference at the Celebration Bowl that the offensive line would be a place his staff would focus on improving this off-season. So when offensive tackle Simi Moala of Utah entered the Transfer Portal, it wasn’t too long before the Tigers jumped at the opportunity to land him. According to Porter Larsen, who covers the Utah Utes for ESPN, Simi Moala has signed with Coach Prime and is the first Polynesian player to sign with JSU. The 6’7, 312 pound tackle should provide some much needed protection for Jerry Rice Award winning QB Shedeur Sanders. Simi Moala has played some defensive line in the past as well, and he is a remarkable athlete for his size, so maybe there is a possibility he sees some time on defense as well. That opportunity seemed to be a big selling point for Hunter and Coleman. However, with the need for help on the offensive line, Moala may focus his energy on helping to improve offensive line play for the Tigers.
Jackson State has also landed Florida State Transfer Defensive Tackle, Tru Thompson. This should help to solidify the anger in Florida State fans, who feel that Coach Sanders is becoming their biggest competitor for elite level talent. Thompson has a quick first step and moves extremely well for a man his size. He also squats nearly 500lbs with relative ease. Coach Sanders has had some great success with transfers from the state of Florida, as last season Florida transfer James Houston was second in the FCS in sacks and tackles for loss. Coach Prime is not only grabbing great talent, but great personalities as well. Both Thompson and Moala seem to have personalities that will blend in well with the locker room at Jackson State as both are fun loving guys.
Next season will be quite a challenge for the Tigers offensive line as defensive stars like FCS sack master Isaiah Land still roams the SWAC landscape. The defensive line will have to be stout too as both Grambling State and FAMU have landed two very elite runners in Maurice Washington headed to Grambling State from Nebraska and “the burner“ RB Destin Coates, a FAMU transfer from Georgia State University. Grambling State and FAMU both have rosters that are shaping up to be two of the biggest threats to Coach Prime and the Tigers repeating as SWAC champions next season.
At this point Jackson State hasn’t announced the signing of Moala, like they have for Thompson. Most are still waiting for official word from JSU for confirmation, but all signs point to Coach Prime adding a difference maker to the Tigers biggest area of weakness last season.