Prescott Making Own Name In State System

Tyler Russell is receiving justified attention for his excellent SEC play so far this unbeaten Bulldog season. But Mississippi State has quite a supporting act going from the other quarterback in this 2012 system. Dak Prescott is proving a conference-caliber quarterback in his own right.

Prescott, the second-year freshman, has been a consistent performer through the first half of the schedule. Not just as a special-package substitute, though that remains his primary role. Mississippi State's offensive staff is putting Prescott under-center, or in the shotgun, in other game situations. And Tennessee found out the hard way that the younger triggerman is more than just a direct-snap runner as Prescott connected with Marcus Green for his first college touchdown pass.

In his five games played so far, Prescott is 4-of-8 passing for 54 yards and the first score; and has rushed 18 times for 54 yards, a bunch of first downs, and two touchdowns. If his freshman feats on-field weren't special enough, Prescott is also playing under some personal pressure as his mother battles cancer back home in Haughton, La.

Prescott met with the media Tuesday to talk about that as well as his season to-date. The following is edited and organized by subjects.

Did your passing Saturday show that you are running a more balanced offense yourself?
"Yeah, it's going to be balanced. They expected the run, now they'll be a little bit loose off me because they won't know if I'm going to pass it or not. So it should end up with better yards running, and even when we throw it get them on some play actions. And it works out for the best."

How long did you practice that jab-step and pass play?
"We've run it a good bit in practice. But I can tell you I've probably run it more just on my own time, going through it in my head, just waiting for that opportunity. And it was good."

As it developed were you surprised it was so easy?
"Exactly. Once the play was called I was pretty sure it was going to be open, just because the play before they loaded-up the box. And they came right back with the same defense. Just a little step, they all came up, and he (Green) was running by himself."

It was the ‘Tebow play'?
"Tebow kind of created that pass, the jump pass, the fake to yourself. It was perfect. Even if they saw Tim Tebow and were comparing me to him it worked when I did it!"

Was it a relief to throw for a touchdown after running for two of them earlier?
"It was just a blessing, a dream come true. Playing quarterback you want to get that first touchdown pass. I've got one running, so to come out there and actually throw one it was something I've dreamed about all my life. And it's great."

In the fourth quarter in goal-line offense you completed another pass when the snap was about at your left ear?
"I just had to get the snap. It was a rollout pass, Arceto (Clark) came and I saw him a little late. If I'd seen him earlier he probably would have walked in. I was able to get it off and almost scored that, too."

Are you glad to show you are more than a running quarterback?
"You know, at the position of quarterback you have to throw the ball. But if I line up back there and they don't think I can throw it, that's on them! It just gives us more of an advantage."

Even though defenses know you can run and plan for it you've still made gains?
"That's all about our offensive line and the backs opening up the holes and blocking. I'm just going to the holes they tell me and I try to make one or two miss if I can. But it's all about the line, I give them all the credit."

What was better, running for your first college touchdown or throwing for one?
"Definitely, the pass! Definitely!"

On replay, Tyler Russell came off the sideline to celebrate with you?
"It means a lot. We have a good relationship, he's like my brother. You know, I really don't think he was supposed to be out there! But as soon as I was in the end zone he beat me to the end zone and I was kind of surprised by that! But that just shows how close we are, he's like a brother to me and a great leader."

How has Russell helped you develop?
"Oh, he's helped me a lot. I learn from everything he does, from his mistakes and the good things he does. And we try to help each other out as much as we can. He's just a great leader, not just to me but to everyone on this team."

How did you two get close?
"We hang out on and off the field. But when I came in the state he kind of took me under his wing. And I'm just trying to follow the things he does, the good things, and learn from the bad things. We watch film together, do everything."

State has run a two-quarterback system under Mullen, do you like how this is working?
"Oh definitely. We have a good relationship with one another so when one or the other goes out there there is no selfishness. We want each other to do great, the best we can. We have a great relationship on and off the field. We like to call it the two-headed monster at quarterbacks, that's how we're looking at it."

Do you ever get tired of folk like us bringing up Chris Relf's name and comparing you two?
"Oh, no. Chris played here and had a decent career. Not at all. He's a great friend of mine and a good guy."

Or Tim Tebow's name?
"Hey, either or!"

Is there anyone's style you pattern yourself after?
"I don't like to say just one certain guy. But I love Tim Tebow and Cam Newton, I feel that's my style of play. But I follow Peyton Manning, being a Louisiana guy he's always been one of my favorite quarterbacks. It's just a combination of a few of them."

Would you like to be in the Manning Passing Academy?
"Oh yeah, I went my junior summer. So it would be great to go back. Tyler went, we've discussed our experience in camps before."

Which of you can throw it farther?
"I don't think we've ever just tried the distance, we go at accuracy competitions every now and then. But I don't think we've ever went for distance. Maybe in the summer one day we'll give it a try!"

Russell spent two years as Relf's backup to get where he is, do you talk about that?
"Exactly. We honestly just had that convo yesterday, about how he went through the same thing as a freshman redshirt getting in sometimes in certain situations. It's basically the same thing. With the offense we have, it's great to play under Coach Mullen, everything he's doing for us and giving us the opportunity to make plays. And Tyler is doing a great job showing me how to do it and allowing me to learn from it."

Could we see both you and Tyler in the backfield at the same time?
"I'm going to leave that to the coaches. I hope so!"

That wristband has 36 or so plays on it, how well do you know them?
"I'm pretty comfortable with the whole playbook. But I have to go in every game and prepare like I'm the starter. That's something that me and Tyler go back-and-forth, help each other out all day. Definitely I know them all."

We've heard reports that your mother (Peggy Prescott) has cancer?
"Yes, she does. She has colon cancer, she's going through chemotherapy now. But she's a tough lady. I know my Mom shaped me and raised me and my brothers basically by herself. She's the toughest lady as it gets and if anybody will beat it I believe she will. She's a driven and strong lady and when I go out there and play I play for her and do everything with her in the back of my mind. When I got that rushing touchdown against South Alabama I pointed in the stands and I was letting her know that's for you. She means everything to me."

Does she get to drive and see you play?
"She's been to every game but the Troy game. Yeah, she's supported me and missed one game, that was from my freshman year all through my life. She was up here at the Tennessee game."

So she was able to celebrate your touchdown pass?
"Oh definitely, definitely!"

What is her condition?
"She started her treatments in September. In a couple of weeks she'll have her CAT scan and we'll see how it's going. She got sick in the summer but found out it was colon cancer in August."

Did you ever consider going home to stay with her?
"No. the reason it was never a thought, was she would never allow that to be a thought. There's no place she would rather me be than here playing, doing what I love to do. That never crossed my and her mind. She's my best friend and my hero."

If State wins this week they will be 7-0 going into Alabama, what is the feeling on the team?
"You have to stay focused. You can't look over any team in college football. It's all about staying focused, this is our opponent this week, Middle Tennessee."

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