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Five Jackson State football players primed for transfer portal with Deion Sanders' departure

The Deion Sanders era for Jackson State football will end after the Celebration Bowl on Dec. 17. Colorado announced the hiring of the Jackson State coach on Saturday, hours after the Tigers defeated Southern 43-24 to win back-to-back SWAC Championship games.

Sanders – who delivered Jackson State its first conference championships since 2007 – expressed his desire for assistant coach T.C. Taylor to become his successor in a team meeting following the victory. However, retaining members of his staff may not curtail the fallout that's bound for the Tigers following his departure.

Three-star recruit Robert Lockhart III decommitted from JSU following Colorado's announcement. The 5-foot-7, 175-pound wide receiver was the highest-ranked prospect in Jackson State's 2023 recruiting class.

Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders, right, speaks with cornerback De'Jahn Warren (4) who comes off the field during the second half of the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship NCAA college football game against Southern, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders, right, speaks with cornerback De'Jahn Warren (4) who comes off the field during the second half of the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship NCAA college football game against Southern, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

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The transfer portal also provides an avenue for some players to leave Jackson State now that Sanders and his stardom is no longer attached to the program. Sanders addressed that in Saturday's team meeting.

"Now what I don't want you to do is thinking something is better on the other side in regards to some of you," Sanders said. "I would like have the opportunity to meet with some of you so you don't go jump in the portal and you die in the portal.

"I don't want that to happen."

Sanders can express his concern, but Jackson State will lose some of its players to the transfer portal as the dust settles into an offseason of change. It's hard to believe his son, Shedeur Sanders, the SWAC Offensive Player of the Year won't follow him to Boulder.

Here are five candidates from JSU to enter the transfer portal:

Shedeur Sanders, quarterback

Shedeur Sanders came with his father to Jackson State, and he'll leave with him as well. The SWAC Offensive Player of the Year joined his father in Colorado for Sunday's introductory press conference after passing for 3,403 yards and 36 touchdowns in 12 games this season. He also had five rushing TDs.

The sophomore would instantly be in the mix for the Buffaloes starting job after Colorado (1-8) had nine passing TDs this season.

Travis Hunter, defensive back / wide receiver

Deion Sanders won the 2021 SWAC Championship, but landing former five-star recruit Travis Hunter helped show programs across the country how powerful he could be on the recruiting trail.

Hunter was the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2022, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings and Deion Sanders got him to decommit from Florida State to join the Tigers.

The star freshman had 141 receiving yards and two TDs along with 11 tackles and two interceptions in seven games, part of a injury-riddled freshman season. Hunter will have plenty of suitors if he doesn't travel with Deion Sanders to Colorado.

Kevin Coleman Jr., wide receiver

Hunter made most of the headlines in JSU's last recruiting class, but Coleman was a highly rated recruit himself. The four-star recruit was the No. 6 wide receiver nationally.

The SWAC Freshman of the Year had 25 catches for 338 yards and two TDs in 12 games. Coleman received offers from Florida State, Miami, and Oregon among other before committing to the Tigers.

Nyles Gaddy, edge rusher

The All-SWAC first team selection had 40 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and seven sacks in 12 games. Gaddy, a Tennessee transfer, also had two forced fumbles.

Sy'veon Wilkerson, running back

The West Virginia transfer led the Tigers with 212 carries for 1,100 rushing yards and nine touchdowns in 12 games. Wilkerson played a huge role in the Jackson State offense after JSU's 16-3 victory over Tennessee State in the Southern Heritage Classic on Sept. 10.

This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Five Jackson State football players who could enter transfer portal