BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Hue Jackson was smiling and laughing while shaking hands with Deion Sanders and giving hugs to Roland James during his first SWAC Media Day as Grambling coach. He was flanked by linebacker Joshua Reed and offensive lineman Tyler Thomas, and all of them talked about putting in work.
In keeping with the style he is accustomed to, Jackson had a tailor come from Dallas, he called the players in and took a page out of Jackson State University coach “Primetime” Sanders’s book: “If you look good, you feel good and you play good.”
The players had their numbers sewn on the inside of their suits and their numbers on the sleeves of their dress shirts. The suit jackets were black with a yellow stripe on wide lapels outlined in yellow going down the side of the jacket, accentuated with a black-and-yellow “G.”
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Jackson wants his players to look good and feel good. He knows the task he has taken on is daunting. The Tigers’ last SWAC championship came in 2017. To contend for the title this season, the team will not only need a positive attitude but more players making the all-conference team. In the last season, they have put three players on the squad; defensive back Kenan Fontenot, defensive lineman Sundiata Anderson and kicker and punter Garrett Urban.
Jackson knows trying to rebuild the Tigers back into the stalwart it has been is going to take commitment. He knows that recruiting will be key to their ascent to the top. With changes in players and coaches, Jackson believes that the work his team has done will have it ready for the season.
“I have an opportunity to follow one of the greatest coaches in college football in Eddie Robinson,” Jackson said. “Grambling at one time was the place to be and we want to get it back to being the place to be. To have that opportunity, to have that challenge and come to Grambling with a chance to restore the history and tradition there, I don’t think there is anything like it.”
Grambling boasts the most SWAC titles with 26 and begins the season with renewed hope. Jackson, in his first year as a coach, knows playing good starts with looking good.
JT Keith is the HBCU/ High school editor of the USA TODAY network of the South Region. contact him at email@example.com, or follow him at Twitter@JKEITH1