KP Still Defying His Critics


Kevin Prentiss is not what most football experts would consider your prototypical wide receiver. Even the most loyal Bulldog supporters wondered if Coach Jackie Sherrill knew what he was talking about when he labeled Prentiss "The Wide Receiver we have been looking for."

At 5-8, 155 pounds the Vicksburg native signed with Mississippi State and proved to one and all he could compete in the rugged Southeastern Conference.

"I had a good opportunity to go right in and start at State, so that played a big part in my decision to go State," said Kevin. "It was also good to stay in Mississippi so my parents and my other family members could come and see me play."

Kevin made several big plays throught his Bulldog career, but the play he is best known for is a 83-yard punt return for a touchdown in the 1998 SEC Championship game. The run up the MSU sideline is the longest return in the history of the Championship game.

"We were down in the game and our offense was struggling," said Prentiss. "I had talked with some of the guys on the return team and I thought we just needed a couple of blocks to break one. I thought we had a good chance to bring that one to the house. The whole game we had some good returns and I was able to break that one."

Kevin's memorable return set off a cacophony of cowbells throughout the Georgia Dome. With the Bulldog defense playing well, Kevin felt the 14-10 MSU lead may be enough.

"When I looked at the clock I saw it was just under nine minutes left," explained Kevin. "Our defense was playing so well I thought we might be able to hold on. Tennessee came back and showed why they were number one in the country."

For Prentiss and his teammates, the road to Atlanta started long before the season opener. The hard work of the off season strength and conditioning program set the tone for the 1998 season.

"The team worked hard the whole off season and we really gelled," explained Kevin. "We got it into our heads that we wanted to win the West. We played pretty good all season. It all came down to that game with Arkansas. We played hard and it happened for us. From the start we really believed we could do it. It wasn't just something we were all saying to each other. We believed. We felt we could do it and we did it."

Kevin believes that the entire season was just one big moment after another. He has a tough time singling out just one or two special memories.

"The whole season was just special," said Prentiss. "I would say coming back in the Arkansas game is something I really remember. We were down and we battled back and made the big 4th down play to keep it going. Hazlewood ended up kicking the game winning field goal. If I had to pick just one game it would be the Arkansas game, but the whole season was special to me."

After Prentiss' days in Maroon and White were over he tried his hand in the NFL.

"When I first came out I went to camp with the Colts and the next year I went with the Giants," said Kevin. "I didn't start playing Arena Ball until 2003. I played in the XFL the one year they had it. I went to the Carolina Cobras in Arena towards the end of the season and they didn't bring me back. Then I caught on with Memphis."

To say Kevin caught on with Memphis is putting it mildly. The elusive Prentiss holds 14 career records for the AFL2 Explorers including 642 career points and 3,953 career receiving yards.

Prentiss helped Memphis and Coach Danton Barto to an Arena Cup Championship in 2005.

In 2006, Coach Barto was named the head coach of the AFL's Las Vegas Gladiators. One of the first moves Barto made was to get Kevin on the roster.

In the second game of the 2007 season, Kevin scored an AFL record nine touchdowns in a 79-69 win over the Grand Rapids Rampage. Prentiss hauled in 13 passes for a gawdy 235 yards and the record nine scores. The previous AFL single game mark was seven.

"I can't really explain it," chuckled Kevin. "We were just clicking at the time and we kept making big plays. I was a little surprised that they kept me in single coverage. We just took advantage of it and ended up scoring nine touchdowns."

While Kevin is proud of the record, he knows that one game, even a record breaker, does not a career make. Like good gossip from business trips, Kevin plans to stay in Las Vegas.

"My first goal this year is to stay healthy," said Kevin. "If I can stay healthy I think I will be fine. I want to stay consistent. I am not going to let this record go to my head. My goal is to be consistent and help us win."

Even though Kevin is now living out in Las Vegas, he still stays in touch with his teammates and friends he made in Stark Vegas.

"I talked to Rob (Morgan) every now and again. I talked to him about a week ago," said Prentiss. "I talk to Kevin Cooper all the time. I talk to Terrence McCaskey a good bit. There's a few of us that stay in touch."

Throughout his life Kevin has been told he was too small or too short to play football, but Kevin has made a career out of proving people wrong.

"My size has always been the knock on me," said Kevin. "I just use that as motivation to show people that I really can play. I feel that I can play on any level and not just in Arena or Arena 1."

Prentiss has had his chances to prove himself at the National Football League level, but he was unable to make it through the final rounds of cuts. If fortune shines on Kevin and he gets to play at the highest level he would be overjoyed, but if the chance never comes again Prentiss says he will not feel unfulfilled.

"If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't I am not going to be upset about it," said Prentiss.

Kevin has played football in nearly every region of the country. No matter where he goes it seems he runs into some Bulldog fans who still remember him fondly.

"It feels great to see that," exclaimed Kevin. "People tell me nice things all the time, but I think sometimes they are just playing with me. I am surprised at the people who know me. When I was in Southaven just out and about, I would have people come up to me and talk to me. They said they remembered me and that they still enjoyed watching me play. I enjoy all of that and I appreciate all of the fans that have kept up with me all these years."

Despite his hectic schedule, Kevin still keeps up with Bulldog football.

"As far as the wins and losses go, I don't like that," said Kevin. "I feel Coach Croom is doing a good job though. He is getting the players in there that he wants and I think they are going to get better each year. I used to go to a lot of games the first couple of years after I got out of school. I would like to get back down there and go to some games. I would really like to do that."

Prentiss, the father of a two year old daughter, has a few words of wisdom for youngsters coming up that may get labeled as too small.

"I would just tell them that they need to believe in themselves," said Kevin. "Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do what you want to do. If you know in your heart you want to do something, just use all of the talk as motivation to be better. That's pretty much what I did. I used all of that negative talk to keep me going."

Sort of like a team picked dead last in the SEC west by the experts that gave the eventual National Champions all they wanted and then some on a late fall afternoon in 1998.

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