It is a rivalry of mutual respect between Sanders and McNair

It's a rivalry of mutual respect between Sanders and McNair

Earlier this fall, after a 26-12 loss to Jackson State, Alabama State soccer coach Eddie Robinson Jr. lashed out about Deion Sanders, saying, “He ain’t SWAC. I’m SWAC.”

It ought to be famous Robinson subsequently apologized, as nicely he ought to have. All people within the Southwestern Athletic Convention ought to thank the heavens for the eye and income Sanders has delivered to the league.

Rick Cleveland

Don’t count on any related outbursts following this Saturday’s Jackson State-Alcorn State Soul Bowl matchup at Lorman. We would see some after-the-whistle skirmishes through the sport. Certainly, it might be an upset if we didn’t. The JSU-Alcorn rivalry is as heated as any in school sports activities. Tempers often flare. However it doesn’t matter what occurs on the sphere, Sanders and Alcorn’s head coach Fred McNair possible will share a hug and retain a wholesome mutual respect for each other.

“Love him, love him, love him,” Sanders mentioned when requested about McNair throughout his weekly press convention Tuesday morning. “I’ve a lot respect for him and what he has represented throughout his profession and what he has completed for the SWAC for a large number of years.”

In a telephone interview later Tuesday afternoon, McNair was effusive in his reward for Sanders. “He’s completed an amazing job at Jackson State and for the SWAC,” McNair mentioned. “He’s helped convey issues we’ve been attempting to get on this league for a very long time, particularly in regard to TV and media publicity. He’s introduced in big-time recruits. He’s made Jackson State higher, however he’s made us all higher. There’s little question about that.”

No one is extra “SWAC” than Alcorn State’s Fred McNair. (Photograph by Rick Cleveland) Credit score: Rick Cleveland

It’s tough to think about anybody extra “SWAC” than Fred McNair. He’s the unique Air McNair. He was a sensational participant at Alcorn. His younger brother, the late Steve McNair, was initially dubbed Air II McNair out of respect for older brother Fred. Tim McNair, one other brother, additionally was a standout huge receiver at Alcorn. Fred’s son, Akeem, is a junior huge receiver for the Braves. 

Sanders is aware of and appreciates all that. He knew it again in August of 2019 when he was readily available for the Alcorn-Southern Miss season opener at Hattiesburg.

“Shedeur (his quarterbacking son) was on a recruiting go to to Southern Miss,” Deion Sanders mentioned. “We have been there to go to Southern Miss, however I felt compelled to go to the Alcorn locker room and say ‘what’s up’ to Coach McNair for all he has meant over the course of his profession. His identify ought to be within the archives of HBCU historical past.

“I really feel like we’ve had a friendship ever since,” Sanders continued. “Coach McNair is an efficient man, an incredible man, with an incredible household. I really like the best way he goes about his job and his enterprise.”

Sanders, as he ought to, expects an all-out effort from the Braves. “Alcorn goes to come back out and play their butts off,” Sanders mentioned.

McNair expects the identical from Jackson State, a staff he is aware of in all probability possesses way more expertise and depth than his personal.

“They’ve acquired numerous prime notch guys,” McNair mentioned. “They’ve acquired guys who could possibly be taking part in at Energy 5 colleges. They’ve acquired guys who’ve performed at Energy 5 colleges. He has introduced in some actually big-time recruits and transfers.”

A type of recruits is Shedeur Sanders, the JSU quarterback McNair calls “an elite participant.”

“He’s an incredible quarterback,” McNair mentioned of the youthful Sanders. “I really like the best way he will get the ball out of his hand. He will get it out fast and he’s correct. He makes good choices. He’s an incredible participant.”

Sanders was introduced Monday as JSU’s finalist for the C Spire Conerly Trophy, and he might be among the many favorites. He ought to be. He has accomplished 71% of his passes for 31 touchdowns and simply 5 interceptions for an undefeated, nationally ranked staff.

However Alcorn State, 5-5, has an excellent Conerly Trophy candidate of its personal. Meet operating again Jarveon Howard, from Columbia, who has run for 1,154 yards, averaging 5.6 yards per carry with 11 touchdowns. There’s a narrative there. McNair recruited Howard laborious out of highschool at East Marion. Howard selected Syracuse as a substitute. He ran for about 700 yards over two seasons at Syracuse earlier than getting into the switch portal. One in every of Howard’s first calls after getting into the portal was from McNair, and the dialog went exceedingly nicely for each. Howard advised McNair he ought to have gone to Alcorn within the first place. Howard possible would be the finest again Jackson State has confronted all season.

Nonetheless, Jackson State might be an enormous favourite Saturday. Alcorn possible wants no less than a plus-2 turnover benefit and an enormous play or two within the kicking sport to have an opportunity. However that is soccer and it is a rivalry sport. These issues do occur – within the SWAC and in every single place else soccer is performed.

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