It was nearly 9 pm last Saturday night, the Jackson State Tigers had lost their newly found aura of invincibility, the chance to hoist the 2021 Celebration Bowl Trophy, and the chance to stop a four-game winning streak by the MEAC over the SWAC in Celebration Bowls, but one thing they did not lose, was the commitment or excitement of their stunning new recruit, Travis Hunter. That night, on a highlight tweet posted by ESPN, Mr. Hunter, posted a retweet of the highlight, and simply stated "Time to Work". In the tweet, Hunter tagged Coach Deion Sanders and his new quarterback, Sheduer Sanders. Those had to be encouraging words for his new quarterback, who was coming off of one of his worst performances of the season, on one of the biggest stages in his young career. A far cry from his stellar showing against SWAC power Alcorn,
when he went 28 of 39 for nearly 300 yards and 3 touchdowns or his outing against Texas Southern, where he threw for 305 yards and 3 touchdowns. In the Celebration Bowl, Sanders was harassed constantly, threw for only 175 yards and had two costly turnovers. However, the day was also not entirely perfect for Mr. Hunter. Though he had a remarkable individual performance with 10 catches, 178 yards, and two touchdowns, his team (Collins Hill High School), just like Coach and Sheduer Sanders, suffered a defeat at the hands of a team (Graham-Kapowsin High School) they were favored to beat.
When Travis Hunter was interviewed by 11 Alive after his decision to go to Jackson State, he said "I got the one in a life time chance to play for one of the greats, and also I got a chance to make a change in history." He also mentioned playing for an HBCU and what that meant for him, however that did not deter the thousands of people on twitter and other social media platforms from saying things like, "Dude really threw away his college career for money bro..." , a post which over 200 people liked on twitter, or statements like... "You'll never hear of buddy again...". Many people on social media that expressed very negative words about Hunter's choice to go to Jackson State. After a lopsided loss in one of the most watched Celebration Bowls ever, Hunter could have simply remained silent or just focused on his great individual performance that day, but instead he decided to send a message to Coach Prime and his new QB, that he was ready to get to work.
There is a ton of work to be done, not only on the field for Jackson State, but work to change the narrative surrounding HBCU schools and their football programs. The HBCU community and Coach Sanders are not deaf to the words of some members of the general public.
In his post Celebration Bowl press conference, Coach Sanders said "If we could just unite and do what we get paid to do it could be a beautiful thing, cause I get sick of people talking about a kid as if we're not good enough, that's all of us, we're not good enough for a kid that has 4 or 5 stars...that don't make no sense to me". Mr. Hunter seems to understand his platform and the weight of his decision as well, stating in a recent tweet, "I'm so grateful for the massive support ... But while you're all here...let me nudge the spotlight over to HBCUs. Let's massively support them...Alumni, grantors, athletes-its going to take all of us. Who is with me? This is our moment."
Based on his public statements Mr. Hunter is fully committed to not only Jackson State, but the electric two-way high school superstar is committed to increasing the attention and the support being given to HBCU football. Make no mistake about it, Travis Hunter is a bona fide superstar. If you have any questions or doubts simply look at his
highlight footage. He also has a large social media following. On Twitter, where he now proudly displays the Jackson State mantra "#IBelieve" and the Tigers signature logo, Hunter has over 22,800 followers. His TikTok video with his new Jackson State teammates has over 1.1 million views, which fails in comparison to his two pinned TikTok posts which have over 12 million views collectively. His decision to choose Jackson State is encouraging not only to HBCU fans, but also to decision makers like Celebration Bowl Executive Director John Grant, who stated in an interview with us, that "The fact that Coach Sanders flipped the number one recruit from Florida State to Jackson State speaks volumes about HBCUs and how our kids are now re-looking at these institutions...". Mr. Grant went on to say, "Its time to bring our kids home, and we hope the Celebration Bowl becomes that vehicle to showcase what our Historically Black Colleges and Universities are doing and the value they add to the development of our young people." While trash-talking is high among SWAC opponents like Florida A&M Tight End Nicolas Dixon who tweeted recently "Go recruit more 5 stars you gone need em...We will see yall next fall", most likely aimed at Coach Sanders.
Most HBCU supporters would agree that Mr. Hunter's signing and his recent showing of commitment to Jackson State is a very positive sign for the future of HBCU football.