Who’s Dakota Prescott?
Simple Answer: He’s the 6’2, 230-pound quarterback who led his team to victory over perennial power the LSU Tigers this past Saturday. Their first victory over a top-10 opponent in 14 years and first win in “Death Valley’ since 1991.
Real Answer: Dak, as known by most, is the “program-changing” quarterback who has lifted Mississippi State from obscurity to national prominence.
The Mississippi State coaching staff and fan base always knew what they had in Dak. They always knew that he had the presence. They always knew he had the talent. And they always knew he had “It.”
Mississippi State’s head coach Dan Mullen realized that he had something special when he offered Prescott four years ago. He was one of the first coaches to offer him. Subsequently, he’s one the few coaches who was willing to give Prescott an opportunity to play quarterback.
Prescott rewarded Mullen’s loyalty and faith when he rebuffed a late LSU offer and enrolled early in 2011. He had an immediate buzz from the moment he stepped foot on campus.
Even with Chris Relf(One of more successful Mississippi State quarterbacks in recent memory), Tyler Russell(The most hyped quarterback recruit Mississippi State had ever signed) and Dylan Favre(Brett Favre’s nephew) on the roster, there was still talk of the broad-shouldered kid who was Mullen’s first true target at the quarterback position.
The media and fans had to wait to see the kid, though. Prescott redshirted and then served as the running quarterback to Russell’s passing quarterback as a freshman.
The time finally came for the kid to be unleashed. Russell succumbed to an injury in the first game of the season. Prescott entered and brought spark to an offense that looked putrid under Russell. The Bulldogs still lost the game, but it was clear that there was something special about the kid.
A young Bulldog team struggled in 2013 but Prescott shined and gave Mississippi State something it needed: hope.
Hope that they had finally found the quarterback they always sought. Coming from a state that has produced Brett Favre(Southern Miss), Archie Manning(Ole Miss) and Steve McNair(Alcorn State), it’s a shame that Mississippi State had never had “that” guy. But they had him now.
The national media heaped praise on Prescott during the off-season. The college football world was still wondering: Who is this kid Dak Prescott everyone is calling a “Dark Horse” Heisman candidate?
Prescott lived up to the hype in the first three games–throwing for 696 yards and rushing for 273 with 11 combined touchdowns.
With a primetime match-up against LSU, the stage was finally set for Prescott to announce his arrival to the rest of the nation. He delivered. He had 373 total yards and three touchdowns.
It wasn’t just the numbers that set Prescott apart. It’s the way he went about getting them.
The most impressive sequence came in the third quarter. Prescott fumbled the ball and LSU defensive end Danielle Hunter picked it up and scored. Showing great resiliency, the Haughton, Louisiana native responded with a 56-yard run through the teeth of the LSU defense–killing LSU’s momentum and re-establishing Mississippi State’s control of the game that was never relinquished.
It was a true “Heisman” moment.
Prescott emerged from the game as a true contender for the Heisman, not a “Dark Horse.” He has everything required to be a front-runner.
Stats: Prescott has thrown for 11 touchdowns on the season, to go along with 378 rushing yards and 15 combined touchdowns–including a touchdown reception.
Intangibles: Prescott has the million-dollar smile and clean image that Heisman voters covet now with the recent transgressions of past winners Jameis Winston and Johnny Manziel.
Great Story: Prescott lost his mother Peggy last season. And in the same week, he went out and played inspired football. He suffered a shoulder injury but returned valiantly in the final game–leading the Bulldogs to an improbable victory over in-state rival Ole Miss.
Not only has Prescott given the Bulldogs a Heisman candidate, he’s helped them have something they’ve never had: an offense.
The Bulldogs historically are known for having great defensive teams. But the offense has always left something to be desired.
The Bulldog offense in 2014 has changed that narrative. They’re putting up 41.3 points a game (26th in the nation). This year’s offense is a realization of what many hoped for when Dan Mullen was hired in 2009 away from Florida.
Dak is a major reason for that turnaround. He’s allowed Mullen to open up the offense in a way he never could under Relf and Russell. Relf had the arm talent and legs but lacked the accuracy and confidence. Russell had the arm talent and accuracy but lacked the intangibles. Prescott has the arm talent, legs and accuracy with a little extra.
While I praise Prescott for his intangibles and talent, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention what he has working in his favor.
The emerging star has the right talent around him. Josh Robinson has emerged as one of the best running backs in the SEC. Jameon Lewis and De’Runnya Wilson are All-SEC caliber wide receivers. The Bulldog offensive line isn’t half bad, either.
The “Power” spread employed by Mullen fits right into Prescott’s physical style of play. It’s the same offense that made Tim Tebow, who Prescott has been compared to, into one of the greatest college football players of all-time.
It doesn’t hurt that the Bulldogs have a “Psycho D”, which is only giving up 16.5 points per game (16th nationally). With that defense behind him, Dak isn’t under pressure to win the game by himself. It allows him to play free and uninhibited.
That will come in handy the next two games as Prescott leads the “Dawgs” against Texas A&M and Auburn, two top-10 opponents led by their own Heisman Trophy candidates–Kenny “Trill” Hill and Nick Marshall.
So, who’s Dak Prescott? The player Mississippi State knew and the rest of the nation is about to find out about.
J.Short’s Hot Takes
- To J.Rob, I know you’re not getting the love around the SEC that you deserve. But I want to say: “I see ya.” Keep eating. The national media will notice your exploits soon enough.
- De’Runnya Wilson is the receiver that Mullen has lacked since coming to MSU. That big target who can stretch the field and makes things easy in the red zone. The play that showed Wilson’s worth was the corner route on the first touchdown of the game. The Bulldogs haven’t had a guy who can go up and “Moss” a defensive back that way in the Mullen era.
- Salute to the Bulldog offensive line for stepping up and dominating one the best defensive lines in college football Saturday.
- Sticking with the offensive line. Bulldog fans, take several seats over your criticism of the Dillon Day suspension. He deserves it. There is no way he didn’t stomp on those LSU players on purpose. And Change.Org petitions. Really? Y’all need to fall back and email the White House about ISIS or Ebola, not a darn college center for Mississippi State.
- I have another I see ya for Nelson Adams, Richie Brown and Christian Holmes. All three have played well this season and haven’t got much pub for it. So, I see ya. Keep grindin.
- If the Bulldog staff doesn’t plug the holes in the secondary, they will lose one or both of the next two games. The Aggies and Tigers have quarterbacks with big-time arms and will take advantage of every mistake. Get it together in the bye week or pay for it. I don’t care how they do it. Just do it.
J.Short’s Final Take
To Dan Mullen, what the heck were you thinking in final minutes of the LSU game? I really want to know. You get backups ready in other games to play the LSU’s of the world, not get them experience versus the LSU’s of the world. I’d call this colossal coaching blunder a fireable offense if the Bulldogs hadn’t actually won the game. It’s probably the stupidest coaching move I’ve seen in a long time.
Jeremiah Short, Peach State College Sports Contributor