Which is how the best Bulldog quarterback in many a MSU era manages to keep his mind, and heart, on the business at hand. “I guess just staying focused to the gameplan,” Prescott said. “Staying focused on what’s ahead.
“It doesn’t really give you a chance to think about the emotional things. So, more so keeping you mind on what’s important.”
Mississippi State minds are very much on the most important player of modern Bulldog football history. The best? Well, there probably have been better Dogs at particular positions; linebackers, receivers, runners, linemen, and so on. But this isn’t picking a best Bulldog.
It is about greatness. Dak Prescott defines it. He also can put a proud exclamation point on this legacy with one more victory, in the Belk Bowl. The thing is, Prescott is content leaving legacy talk to everyone else.
For now? He is not the only Bulldog taking his career bow Wednesday, Prescott reminds. “Right, I’ve got some great fellow seniors.
“We’ve got some guys who have had some success here and we want to make sure we go out with a win.” Which for the record would be a 34th victory for those of four varsity seasons whether they played in every contest or not.
It’s a literal record too, or tie for one as the 1939-42 teams compiled 34 wins as well. But then freshmen didn’t play in those days, so realistically this is the most successful four-season class ever at State. Led by the most successful quarterback of all-MSU-time too. By now most fans can recite most of the 38 game, season, and career marks Prescott has made…and he can match or top two more Wednesday with just a couple of touchdowns.
Prescott probably knows a lot of his numbers. He definitely chooses not to openly care. Not yet. But, push just a little?
“It’s exciting. It’s humbling thinking about all the things I’ve done here, the relationships I’ve made. I just want to make sure I go out with a win.”
Of course Prescott made non-statistical history this month with selection as the SEC’s first-team quarterback as named by both league media and conference coaches. Prescott in the process repeated as the first-team quarterback, which hasn’t happened at State since the 1950s. If he wasn’t able to score some of the premium national awards for quarterbacks and offensive players, well, his name was on enough voters’ minds for two years.
His teammates don’t need awards and records to know: they have played with the best of Bulldogs. And even now, Prescott can still amaze those who know him best.
“Sometimes we’re watching film and I’m sitting there, looking,” receiver Fred Ross said. “And I’m like, how did he make that throw under that pressure? That’s why he was in the Heisman race two years back-to-back.”
Prescott did receive one notable national recognition. Tuesday he was named the 2015 Senior CLASS Award winner for the FBS. The award is given to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in top-Division football. And support was won by vote of college coaches, national media, and fans as well.
“Dak has meant so much to Mississippi State in ways that transcend sports,” University president Dr. Mark Keenum said. “Dak epitomizes the meaning of ‘student-athlete.” Prescott added a master’s degree to his MSU academic resume this month.
“It’s special,” Prescott said. “Any time I’m recognized for something non-athletic, just for being myself, it’s special. It’s all about the people around me that just allowed me to have fun in my time, just to be myself, to make other people and try to make myself better each and every day.”
As the college career winds down, it’s fair to ask: how much of Prescott’s greatness is of his own doing and development, of the coach who saw something in a lightly-recruited Louisiana athlete, of the system he stepped into, and of course all the supporting cast to block for, run with, or catch from?
Prescott knows the answer. “I think it’s equally balanced all the way across. I have great playmakers around me who’ve made my job easy all my career. And I’ve got a great coach that puts me in position, whose coached another special quarterback in the SEC who has broken a lot of records.”
That last bit was said with a growing grin, since Prescott was referring to another former Mullen quarterback who did good in college ball at Florida and won some awards. So, “Obviously his system allows you to do things like that.”
But in no sense is Prescott just or even mostly a product of a system. He arrived when Bulldog football was beginning to put enough pieces in places to produce, true. At the same time even the best personnel need somebody to run the show on the field.
At this, Prescott has been…no, not perfect. But he’s been better and done more than any true quarterback to play in maroon-and-white since the position became what it is six decades ago. It will always be asked by Bulldogs of this era what might have happened had Mullen turned the offense entirely over to Prescott sooner.
But what-ifs aren’t part of Prescott’s gameplan now. Nor, he said, is this about erasing images of last year’s Orange Bowl loss. “You’ve probably heard more of that talk than I have!” Prescott lives in the moment…
…even if it is about to be his last moment in MSU uniform.
“That’s all I’m worried about. Making sure my team stays focused, what I can do my last couple of hours of film study and preparation for North Carolina State and this bowl game.”
Because, Dak Prescott knows his worth to Bulldog football already. He also knows he will leave loved like few Mississippi State athletes of any era.
And that is a mighty fine way to feel about this great MSU man’s finale.