One of the first things NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders did as the new head football coach at Jackson State was offer one of the most coveted defensive tackle recruits in the country in five-star Maason Smith. The Houma (La.) Terrebonne blue-chipper tells 247Sports he spoke with Sanders on Monday afternoon.
“Just talking to me about changing the culture,” Smith said.
“He was saying how they wanted things to change. So to do that they had to takes hard hits and try and start getting quality four- and five-star dudes.”
Does Sanders have a chance to do that?
“Yessir, 100 percent,” Smith stated.
In this particular recruitment, Sanders and his Tigers staff look to go toe to toe with the likes of Georgia, LSU, Alabama, Miami and USC for the 6-foot-5, 316-pound Smith, who is the top prospect in the state of Louisiana and No. 19 prospect overall in the 247Sports Composite for the class of 2021. Selected to play in the All-American Bowl this coming January, Smith is expected to make his college decision late in the process, giving Sanders and company time to build a relationship.
Sanders has been busy on the recruiting trail in his first day. Other prospects offered include the nation’s No. 1 JUCO cornerback De’Jahn Warren, who is committed to Georgia, JUCO defensive end and West Virginia commit Nijel Mcgriff, the country’s No. 2 JUCO linebacker and Mississippi State verbal Navonteque Strong, JUCO edge rusher Jammie White, JUCO defensive tackle Lemarcus Faulkner, JUCO defensive tackle Rasheed Lyles, JUCO defensive tackle Hydee Barlow, 2021 defensive back Andreas Keaton and Lone Star State linebacker Dontay Sowells.
Jackson State, an FCS program in Jackson, Miss., that competes in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, is one of the largest HBCUs in the country. This summer, elite some recruits across the football and basketball landscape began including HBCUs in their list of finalists. Korey Foreman, the No. 1 football prospect in 2021, has Howard among his top-seven, 2023 basketball prospect Mikey Williams included five HBCUs in his top 10 and Makur Maker, the No. 19 basketball prospect in the class of 2020, signed with Howard and plans to play for the Bison this fall.
“Possesses impressive size that is definitely college-ready and translates to multiple fronts. Tall and wears his weight well despite being north of 300 pounds. Size and natural athleticism allow for position- and scheme-versatile roles. Mass manifests in impressive functional strength that fosters disengaging ability. Packs point-of-attack punch and also shows varied move set. Shows good lateral range for a big-bodied interior lineman. Naturally high center of gravity affects pad level and leverage consistency. Can tighten change of direction. Massive size relative to age could suggest limited physical ceiling in the long term. Elite defensive line prospect in the 2021 class. Potential impact college player with early-round NFL Draft ceiling.”