During Mississippi State’s 49-34 loss to Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl, network commentator Brent Musburger said on-air that Prescott was decided on returning to school. By the time Prescott came to the Bowl press conference he’d learned of this announcement.
One he had not made. At all.
”I mean, I talked with Coach (Dan) Mullen and my family,” Prescott said in the general media conference. “I don’t remember making any remarks about it.” Prescott later affirmed to Clarion Ledger beat writer Mike Bonner that he had not talked to Musburger.
Prescott did file during Starkville bowl camp for a draft-round projection by National Football League analysts. He said before that camp ended he had heard back but would not offer details. Coach Dan Mullen approved of his junior All-SEC quarterback following this procedure, as did other Bulldogs. They all have two weeks to officially file for early entry in the NFL draft.
Outside events did not keep Prescott from having a big Bowl, though not nearly as successful as he’d hoped. He threw for 453 yards, a Bulldog bowl record as well as career-high, on 33-of-51 completions with three touchdowns. He was intercepted once, on his first pass of the game which was tipped at the line.
Prescott ended the year having set season records for completions and attempts in this game. He also set the touchdown passes record with 27 now, and rushed for his 14 score of the year which ties for third-best. Career-wise, he is now one touchdown behind former teammate Tyler Russell’s record 42; but he has re-set the standards for season and career accuracy, 200-yard games, touchdowns-responsible for, and on and on.
Now, he has to decide whether to return for a senior season and move all Mississippi State marks that much farther. And Prescott was offering no clues which way he will jump, though most analysts have agreed another year in college is needed to improve his passing to something more like professional form. The example of so many spread-type, run/throw quarterbacks who have struggled in the NFL is there before him.
Besides, given the choice of giving away stats to get a win in Miami… “Pretty much all those records,” Prescott said. “It’s about the team. I guess those are good but without winning these last two games, it doesn’t sit very well.” Whether that reflects a man with unfinished Bulldog business, only the next two weeks will tell.
If the game wasn’t frustrating enough, there already was an annoyed edge to pre-game events. Junior running back Josh Robinson posted in Instagram earlier Wednesday that he had decided to turn professional. Asked when he found out, Mullen after the game said “Probably when he put it on twitter or something.” Meaning, the head coach was not pleased Robinson had chosen hours before this big game to make personal news.
After the game, "Yeah, it was always the thought process that I had ever since I stepped foot on Mississippi State's campus," Robinson said. "It just came through and I thought it was my time."
Junior linebacker Benardrick McKinney is officially undecided, though at this point popular perception is he will turn professional. McKinney was not exactly tipping his hand in the locker room, when asked if he had finished as a Bulldog this night.
“It was a great honor playing at Mississippi State, if it was my last game,” he said. “I mean I’ve got a lot of brothers, the whole linebacker corps. The whole defense. I mean it’s been a great ride.”
For Mullen, one price of getting and developing top-drawer players is the risk of losing them a year early. That happened with defensive tackle Fletcher Cox in 2011 and offensive guard Gabe Jackson in 2013. Both are on NFL rosters with Philadelphia and Oakland respectively.
So the Bulldog coach isn’t unprepared. Nor, he said, will any of the Bulldogs be. “Usually we talk, like Dak said, we get all the draft grades and so we sit down and talk with the kids about it. It’s a great opportunity for (Robinson) to go on and continue his career, try to continue his career I guess at the next level.
”I think we’ve put a lot of guys in the NFL over the last couple of years. And so I’m sure we’ll put a whole bunch more in this year.”