T-Rob’s approach to players with NFL dads: ‘Jaycee is not Joe, Shilo is not Deion’
It’s almost built into their titles as this point, an unfortunate element of being in the family of a top football player.
Shilo Sanders’ name is almost always accompanied with the phrase “Deion Sanders’ son.” Jaycee Horn is similarly tied to his father Joe, though less so now than it was before his strong first season with South Carolina football.
It’s not a topic the Gamecocks want at top of mind or affecting the way those players approach things. It meant a conversation for each with their sons’ position coach, Travaris Robinson.
“That’s one of the things that I had to sit down with Deion about, and had to sit down with Joe about,” Robinson said. “Jaycee is not Joe and Shilo is not Deion. They’re Shilo and Jaycee. I’ve never gone, used their parents’ success and try to motivate them that way. I don’t do that.
“That’s one of the things I will not do.”
What does he want instead?
“I want them to come in and find themselves,” Robinson said. “Be the best version of themselves.”
That doesn’t mean the elder Sanders or Horn won’t be around the program. Joe Horn was at practice on Wednesday when the team opened spring ball. Shilo Sanders isn’t in Columbia yet, but Robinson expects to see Deion’s face when he is.
Jaycee Horn had the advantage of not playing his father’s position. His dad was a four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, while the son is a versatile defensive back. Shilo Sanders isn’t so lucky, as his father has a case as the best defensive back to ever play.
“It can be a gift and a curse sometimes because the expectations are set that high, to try to do what your dad did.” Robinson said. “It can be good because you come from that kind of background and your dad can sit and tell you what you’re doing wrong. But it also can be bad because sometimes you can’t meet those expectations.”
Jaycee Horn has already shown plenty of talent in his nascent college career. He was a freshman All-American and often South Carolina’s best defensive back in 2018. He played nickel and some corner, and Robinson would like to have him as the No. 1 corner on the squad next season.
Shilo Sanders is more of an unknown because he’s not yet on campus. The coaches would like to give him a try at the slot corner spot, but he has some flexibility.
His father earned the nickname “Prime Time” in his playing days, but the coaches expect him to be anything but. Robinson saw Deion Sanders as being under-the-radar during the recruitment, instead letting the process work through Shilo’s coaches (one a former teammate of Robinson).
If either NFL father appears at practice, it might draw some attention from interested onlookers, but they won’t do anything to draw it or try to give thoughts on the way their sons are coached. On those sidelines, they’re no longer Pro Bowlers or dominant NFL veterans.
“It’s not the football player,” Robinson said. “It’s the dad.”