Jackson State quarterback Shedeur Sanders was named the 2021 Jerry Rice Award winner as the best freshman in FCS football. Sanders is the first HBCU player to win the award in its 11-year history after throwing for 2,971 yards, 28 touchdowns and only five interceptions, leading Jackson State to a SWAC title and its first Celebration Bowl berth.
Sanders has had a fantastic season filled with great performances. Here are the top plays from his freshman season.
The top plays from Jerry Rice Award winner Shedeur Sanders’ freshman year
The first touchdown pass
Shedeur Sanders' first touchdown pass at Jackson State was a preview of how his freshman season would go. Sanders showed off his athleticism, evading pressure in the pocket while maintaining his vision downfield to find wide receiver Josh Lanier for the score. It was the first touchdown of many for Sanders in his collegiate career.
Shedeur Sanders connects with Joshua Lanier For his 1st career TD pass to get JSU on the board. pic.twitter.com/bffmilHvRh— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) September 11, 2021
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Threading the needle
In a highly anticipated game against reigning SWAC Champion Alabama A&M, Shedeur Sanders had a fantastic day on the field. Sanders threw for four touchdowns in a 61-15 blowout victory that spoiled Alabama A&M's homecoming. For his third touchdown pass of the day, Sanders threw a laser between three defenders.
Jackson St QB Shedeur Sanders has thrown 3 1st-half TDs as the Tigers are cruising vs AAMU 33-7 at the half.— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) October 9, 2021
📺 ESPN+ pic.twitter.com/rYrJuw4o2z
A touchdown run leads to a "Prime Time" celebration
Later in that same Alabama A&M game, Shedeur Sanders showed he can run the ball, too. On a designed quarterback run, Sanders went 29 yards for his fifth total touchdown of the day. After scoring, Shedeur Sanders celebrated like his father and now-head coach Deion Sanders used to back in his playing days, hitting the iconic "Prime Time" celebratory dance.
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Sanders evades pressure for the score
Early in the game against Alabama State, Sanders dropped back just outside of the red zone looking for the end zone. Pressure collapsed the pocket and Sanders scrambled out to his right, stiff-arming a defender to keep the play alive. The signal-caller kept his vision downfield with defenders barreling at him to find wide receiver Keith Corbin III for a touchdown.
TOUCHDOWN, TOUCHDOWN JACKSON STATE!!— Jackson State Football (@GoJSUTigersFB) October 16, 2021
Shedeur Sanders finds Keith Corbin III in the back of the end zone for 6! Extra point is good!
Q1 | JSU 7, ASU 0 #IBelieve x #BleedTheeBlue x #ProtectTheeBlock pic.twitter.com/NKoDm5COp5
The game-winning touchdown pass in the Bayou
Down 17-14 with under two minutes remaining against Southern, Jackson State's back was against the wall. With three timeouts left, Shedeur Sanders faced one of the biggest moments in his freshman season. On 1st-and-20 from the 50-yard line, Sanders dropped back and launched a pass downfield as a defender delivered a hit. Awaiting below was Malachi Wideman for what would become the game-winning score.
The win gave Jackson State the SWAC East title and gave Shedeur Sanders a legendary freshman moment.