…when the topic is quarterbacking, there is only one set of numbers that truly matters. They are found in that team column which matches wins and losses. Like no other player or position, quarterbacks are judged by victories. Or lack thereof.
So then. Where does Dak Prescott stand in this all-important statistic? Or more to the 2015 point, with a great big senior season where might this already-beloved Bulldog end up remembered in his position’s pantheon?
Well, that does demand admission: the Mississippi State roll of genuinely great quarterbacks does not take long to call. There is plenty, plenty of remaining room in this particular hall of fame. Since the ‘quarterback’ position as it is now understood was developed in the post-war (the big one) years this has not exactly been Quarterback U.
In fact the program’s true glory years of the 1940s came before true ‘quarterbacking’ developed. Since then there have been seven Bulldogs recognized as first-team All-Southeastern Conference. Beginning with, naturally, Jackie Parker in 1952 and ’53.
Following the acknowledged greatest player—so far—in program history, have been Billy Stacy (1956, ’57, ’58), Tommy Pharr (1968), Rockey Felker (1974), Dave Marler (1978), Don Smith (1986), and now Prescott (2014). Their respective resumes vary widely, to say the least. Parker set records for season scoring which took not just decades but an expansion of schedules and lots of field goal kickers to surpass at last.
Pharr, Marler, and Smith piled up huge yards in epic single seasons but without great team success. Felker, now, became the epitome of a field general type quarterback who made his own plays if necessary but more used the good players around him to win games. Including a bowl game, which up to 2013 only he among all these all-league quarterbacks had done…a reminder that the position is judged by more than stats.
Which is how Prescott can separate himself from this pack. He should become the winningest all-games quarterback ever at State, which demands noting that schedules are longer and bowl trips a little easier these days. But the games still must be won, right? The SEC wins mark will take a great senior season to be sure, yet it is a realistic goal to play for too.
Because he spent 2012 as the short yards/goal line man and shared the job in 2013, the starter wins will take an all-time season. And the SEC starter wins is out of mathematical reach. Oh, well, a Division or league title will be an entirely satisfactory substitute.
In fact, it needs noting that the program’s all-time winner both overall and SEC did not sniff all-conference status at all. We can be confident Wayne Madkin is content with that West winner ring.
Prescott intends to be the second State quarterback to take a team to Atlanta. And the first to win the whole darned hoedown, cementing his stature as greatest Bulldog quarterback. Which is better than numbers by any accounting.
As everyone gradually ramps-up for the approaching season, here is an unofficial tallying of games and wins by selected Bulldog quarterbacks of the last four decades. Selected, obviously, by who played enough games and with enough good teams to be counted. And instead of just looking at those years’ records and assuming said quarterback played and/or started, we’ve dug into the records…where we can find any. This will mean some disagreement with official MSU lists.
You will note a ‘*’ beside some of Felker’s totals. The best data available is he became a starter in October of 1972; and in 1973 split duty with Melvin Barkum. And after five starts Felker’s 1973 season was first interrupted and then ended by injuries. His numbers are subject to review.
And while it should be obvious, games played means either starting or off the bench.
GAMES PLAYED: John Bond 46, Wayne Madkin 45, Matt Wyatt 41, Derrick Taite 39, Tyler Russell 38, Dak Prescott 36, Don Smith 36, Chris Relf 35, Rockey Felker 30
STARTS: Bond 44, Madkin 41, Smith 31, Taite 31, Felker *24, Russell 22, Relf 21, Prescott 20, Wyatt 16.
WINS (All Games Played): Madkin 29, Bond 28, Wyatt 28, Prescott 23, Russell 22, Relf 21, Taite 17, Felker 16.
STARTER WINS Madkin 26, Bond 23, Taite 15, Prescott 14, Felker *14, Relf 14, Smith 13, Russell 12, Wyatt 10.
SEC WINS (All Games Played): Wyatt 18, Madkin 17, Bond 14, Prescott 12, Felker 6.
SEC STARTER WINS: Madkin 16, Bond 13, Taite 8, Prescott 7, Felker *6, Wyatt 6, Russell 6, Relf 5, Smith 2.