National Signing Day 2021 came in with a bang for college football Wednesday, as the widely-considered number one recruit flipped on his school of choice, and chose a surprising one to attend in 2022.
What Happened: Cornerback Travis Hunter of Collins High School in Suwanee, Georgia announced in March 2020 that he would be attending Florida State University to play football. Over the last few months that has been in question with other recruiting trips taking place by Hunter including the University of Georgia.
In October, Hunter shot down rumors of flipping to Georgia, saying he was a Seminole and was not decommitting.
On Wednesday, Hunter threw away both Florida State and Georgia hats during his signing day event before unveiling a Jackson State “Believe” t-shirt and a hat that was thrown to him by someone in the crowd.
Hunter will attend Football Championship Subdivision school Jackson State University in the fall, marking him as the first five-star ranked high school football prospect to sign with an FCS team, according to Walt Disney Co DIS unit ESPN.
“I never doubted that I would play for the Seminoles, but sometimes we are called to step into a bigger future than the one we imagined for ourselves,” Hunter said on Twitter.
Hunter cited Jerry Rice, Doug Williams and Jackson State alum Walter Payton as football players who went to historically black colleges.
“I want to be part of that history, and more, I want to be part of that future.”
Why It’s Important: Jackson State features former NFL great Deion Sanders as the head coach.
Sanders hinted at Jackson State making a splash on Signing Day. “Signing Day is tomorrow. I’m going on record to tell you guys we’re going to shock the country,” Sanders said Tuesday.
Sanders led Jackson State to an 11-1 record, including a conference record of 8-0. The team will play in the Celebration Bowl vs. South Carolina State on Dec. 18, airing live on ABC.
Sanders was recently announced as the winner of the Eddie Robinson Award, given to the coach of the year in the Division 1 subdivision known as FCS.
Sanders landed several other ESPN 300 top recruits for the 2021 class, including his son, quarterback Shedeur Sanders, who was at the time the highest-ranked commit in Jackson State’s history.
There are unconfirmed rumors Hunter is also set to sign a name, image and likeness deal with Barstool Sports, a company partially owned by Penn National Gaming PENN. Rumors say the deal is worth around $1 million and could be the largest high school NIL deal ever.
Barstool Sports has been active in the NIL front, even creating a new “NCAA marketing firm,” according to Dave Portnoy.
The deal could lead to some questioning a potential conflict of interest, as Sanders is the coach at Jackson State and also the host of the “21st and Prime” podcast on Barstool Sports and a regular Barstool Sports guest across its media brands.
Earlier this week, Nike Inc NKE signed its first college athlete to a name, image and likeness deal. UCLA sophomore Reilyn Turner, who plays soccer, landed a deal with Nike with undisclosed terms. The deal follows UCLA becoming a Nike-sponsored athletics program after switching from Under Armour Inc UA.
World Wrestling Entertainment WWE recently launched a NIL program that could help them land future talent after their college careers are over.
Photo: 2C2K Photography, Flickr
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