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Andy Wittry | | September 20, 2023

Deion Sanders's college career: Best games, highlights, records, quotes

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Deion Sanders, the former three-sport star at Florida State, was hired to be the head football coach at Jackson State. His head coaching career kicks off Sunday, Feb. 21 at home against Edward Waters.

Sanders was a two-time unanimous All-America selection on the gridiron for the Seminoles, he was an outfielder who was a major base-stealing threat on the diamond, and he was also a member of Florida State's track and field team.

Here are some of Deion Sanders's best performances in college.

Oct. 19, 1985 — The 100-yard return

There are five 100-yard touchdowns in the history of Florida State football. The third one ever was scored by Deion Sanders, when he returned an interception 100 yards — the longest interception return in program history.

"Sanders intercepted a [Steve] Gage pass at the goal line early in the fourth quarter and raced a school-record 100 yards to score," reported the Fort Lauderdale News. "It was a well-deserved touchdown because Sanders, a freshman, had returned punts 37 and 34 yards to set up scores earlier."

"'I came within one block of breaking each one of the punts,' he said, 'but I became impatient, and the punter got me both times.'"

Florida State won the game 76-14. Below is The Palm Beach Post's coverage of the game.

May 16, 1987 — Deion runs track in between baseball games

Florida State Athletics Deion Sanders runs track at Florida State.

"The fictional All-America athlete who could do it all has come to life," the Tallahassee Democrat reported on May 17, 1987. "He resides in right field for Florida State. He also has been spotted hanging out in the Seminoles' defensive backfield, and on Saturday he added to his legend.

"Deion Sanders showed up at Sarge Frye Field, played an afternoon game against Southern Mississippi and then cooled out for a couple of hours. At 7:05 he threw on a track jersey, jogged about 100 yards over to Weems Baskin Track and ran on FSU's 400-meter relay team.

"'I've never run track,' he after after his race, as he hustled back to the tournament-championship baseball game which started at 7:30.

"His inexperience hardly showed. Sanders had a little trouble getting the baton from leadoff man Martin Mayhew, but once he got it he showed why the track coaches wanted him to run in place of mono-ridden Arthur Blake.

"'We were curious whether he could run against track people,' said Coach Dick Roberts, 'and by God he can!' Sanders was timed in 10.3 seconds for his 100-meter leg."

That spring, Sanders was named to the Metro Conference all-tournament team in baseball.


Oct. 31, 1987 — vs. Tulane

"All-America cornerback Deion Sanders held Tulane receiver Marc Zeno to 39 receiving yards," reported The Palm Beach Post. "Sanders intercepted one pass and returned a punt 49 yards for a touchdown."

It was Sanders's second punt return touchdown in his career, amid his junior season when his punt return average improved by 2.5 yards from 9.4 yards per return to 11.9.

Sept. 10, 1988 — vs. Southern Miss

"In search of revival, 11th-ranked Florida State quickly received inspiration Saturday night from one of its familiar preachers," Florida Today's Bill Vilona wrote. "Senior cornerback Deion Sanders set the tone in a game full of big plays – returning an interception for a touchdown on the second play – igniting the Seminoles to a 49-13 rout of Southern Mississippi at Doak Campbell Stadium."

It was Sanders's first pick-six since his 100-yard interception return against Tulsa as a freshman.

Sept. 17, 1988 — vs. Clemson

Sanders reached the end zone on a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown, the 10th-longest in school history. He is tied for first in Florida State history with three punt returns for touchdowns, none of which were longer than this return against Clemson.

"Deion Sanders started things rolling 3.5 minutes into the second half with a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown to tie the score, 14-14, and give the Seminoles some much-needed momentum," reported The Orlando Sentinel. "'I looked at the Clemson sideline, and I said, 'This one is going back,' Sanders said. 'That punt return team really has a lot of pride. They wanted me to get into the end zone badder than I did.'"

As a senior, Sanders was the best punt returner in the country at 15.2 yards per return. Today, he's first in school history with 126 punt returns and 1,429 punt return yards.

"I want the Heisman now," Sanders said after the game, according to The Orlando Sentinel. "Forget the damn Thorpe [Award]."

Oct. 22, 1988 — vs. Louisiana Tech

"If the visitors, 3-3, coming in after three straight victories, were not intimidated by FSU's defensive work in an opening series, it surely merits applause," reported the Tallahassee Democrat. "On the first play, Deion Sanders missed in an interception that he might have run back for a touchdown when a teammate went for the ball in front of him, perhaps blunting his vision or concentration ... Soon, Deion Sanders raced 30 yards with an interception, highlighting a fine day for the All-America cornerback. On five punt returns, Sanders collected 72 yards.

"Out two games with a knee injury, Sanders reckons he's about 90 percent recovered.

"'But 90 percent of me is better than 115 percent of anybody else,' he said lightly after the game."

Sanders became the first player in Seminoles history with two interception returns for a touchdown in one season, and he's just one of five Florida State players to do so. Sanders is tied with Terrell Buckley for first in school history with four pick-sixes in his college career.

Sanders left Tallahassee with 14 career interceptions, tied with Lee Corso for third all-time, plus Sanders also had three others in bowl games.

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