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November 20, 2012

Deion Sanders Jr. talks SMU commitment

Atlanta Sports Academy (GA) 2013 wide receiver Deion Sanders Jr. received an offer from SMU early Tuesday and committed to the Mustangs on the spot.

"It feels great knowing my hard work paid off and I am a part of this great program," Sanders Jr. said. "Coach Jones and Coach Phillips are very close with the NFL, so their coaching ability is very good and I saw what Coach Phillips did with Houston and know his expertise can help me get to the next level."

The 5-foot-7, 170-pound athlete had interest from Central Florida, South Florida and Rutgers, but he knew SMU was the place for him.

"Growing up in Dallas, it's nice to know I will be able to play in front of my dad and my mother. SMU, academically, is a great school, but I think I can help take this program to the top and turn everybody's world upside down and hopefully get a chance to play in the NFL like my father."

A big reason Sanders Jr. knows SMU is the place for him is the fact that his dad has experience with head coach June Jones, who coached the elder Sanders with Atlanta Falcons in the NFL.

"My dad didn't have to tell me much," Sanders Jr. said. "If you just look at the numbers and what he did at Hawaii, it's easy to tell that Coach Jones is a good coach. My dad mostly just told me that he was a good guy who will look out for you and care about you as a person."

Another big part of the interest in SMU has to do with new wide receivers coach Jason Phillips, who offered Sanders Jr. a scholarship to Houston when he was coming out of Flower Mound (Texas) Marcus High School.

"Coach Phillips is a great coach, too. Just look at what he did in Houston. He led an offense that was averaging over 400 yards a game and was lighting it up in the passing game."

Sanders Jr. has been told the Mustangs will use him as a wide receiver.

"When I visited their practice last week I talked to coach Phillips, and he said that they wanted to use me as a slot receiver in their system."

The Texas native has played receiver his whole life, and he is excited to play in the Run-n-Shoot offense of SMU.

"I think it is a great fit because they like to air out the ball and I will be playing receiver for them," he said. "I think that next year they are going to start airing the ball out even more, so I am excited about that."

The newest Mustang also hopes his teammates from Atlanta Sports Academy, four-star wide receiver Deontay McManus and cornerback Eric Jenkins, will join him on the Hilltop.

"It would be awesome to play with all three of those guys at SMU," Sanders Jr. said. "Deontay picked up an offer today, too. He wants to take his official visits, but I think he may commit, too. SMU is his favorite school, I think."

That would be huge news for SMU, as receiver still is a big need. Jenkins did not pick up an offer from SMU on Tuesday.

Sanders Jr. will enroll at SMU in January.

"Atlanta Sports Academy is just a prep school, so it didn't count against my eligibility," he said. "When I enter class at SMU I will be ahead in the classroom but I will still be a freshman on the field. I will have four years to play four seasons."

The receiver initially enrolled at Atlanta Sports Academy because he wanted some time to work on his cornerback play -- a position he was recruited for out of high school -- and because he was hoping to get some more interest from schools.

While the time at Atlanta Sports Academy didn't bring more schools into the recruitment, the prospect still thinks everything worked out for the best.

"It turned out to be a blessing in the end, because I ended up at SMU," he said. "God works in mysterious ways, and this was really a blessing in disguise."

Sam Erwin and Fletcher Whitely contributed to this story.

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