We often write about Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott being “wise beyond his years.’’
But it’s not just a cliche; before the Mississippi State product was selected by Dallas in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. he’d already hustled to get his Bachelor's degree in information systems with a Master's degree in workforce leadership.
So the skins are on the wall.
And as he begins his second year as a driving force with America’s Team, he wants another skin.
He wants to get a Doctorate, too.
"Being able to understand people, kind of know what people take to be motivated and learning each and every personality that I can, it definitely helps me out to be a leader," Prescott said in explaining why a PhD in Psychology would benefit him. "It's just stuff I learn from the books. I was learning the motivation, the different personalities and traits that either motivates them or puts them down. Knowing how each guy reacts to something different I think helps me the most."
At 23, Prescott isn’t just book-smart when it comes to leadership. He’s got skins on the wall now, too, having taken over for the departed Tony Romo as a voice in the locker room, earning a place alongside the likes of Jason Witten and Dez Bryant.
Witten on Prescott: "My job … is to empower him. That's an important position and he needs to have a voice. That's not something we just give to him. He's earned that. I'm proud of him."
Dez on Prescott: “He leads. We follow.’’
We made note of Prescott emerging in this way last year. His calming presence, combined with best pal Ezekiel Elliott’s class-clown behavior, sets a tone in the locker room and on the practice field. They were central to Dallas experiencing a 13-3 season in their rookie year.
Cowboys QB coach Wade Wilson tells CowboysHQ.com how amazed he was that it same so quickly for the kid.
“We had him early on (last year), and his feet were kind of crazy and goofed up a little bit, and had never been under center, never called a play and learned all these words and what they mean,’’ said Wilson, who joined the coaching staff in explaining to the kid just how lost he looked.
“And he said, ‘Give me a week,’’’ Wilson relayed. “And that’s my favorite story with Dak Prescott. ‘Give me a week, and I’ll get my feet right, I’ll master the verbiage, and let’s go to work.’
“And he did.’’
And how to get better going forward, starting again with this week's three-day minicamp here at The Star in Frisco?
There is a “football education’’ to be had, of course; it’s why the info about Dez, Dak and Zeke trotting off to the film room together (read here) is such an important storyline. The Cowboys coaching staff plans to give Prescott more opportunities to change plays at the line, more shotgun, more zone-read — all playing to his strengths, and that's part physical and part mental. Quarterback is a different position than any other on the field, really, even different than any other in sports. It’s physically demanding, of course. But it’s psychologically demanding, too, and intellectually demanding as well.
So their is football-related learning.
And there is learning that helps you relate in football.
Prescott, who will likely chase that PhD during offseasons (and will wear the professorial look well thanks to his penchant for bowties), can use higher education to understand his teammates and their personalities and their motivations, sure. But more training in psychology can also help Dak understand the Cowboy who might be the single most important figure this franchise employs for the next decade.
That would be Dak himself.
"I know what I've done to get to this position, I know what it takes to continue to get better for me," Prescott said. "So it's just continuing to work.’’
On the field. In the film room. In the locker room. And eventually for Dr. Dak, back in the classroom, too.
I don't think the Cowboys are done scouring the land for young wide receiver and defensive back help. Stay tuned. ... Oh, and what about older defensive back help? Dez Bryant used social media to respond to Darrelle Revis. CHQ has the exclusive here on what the Dallas front office thinks of the idea ... Cowboys 1st-and-10 gets you revved up for minicamp. Click here! ... Daryl Washington, the former Pro Bowl linebacker and DFW native, is continuing his campaign to re-enter the NFL and to join his hometown Cowboys. But Washington tells me he still hasn't been contacted by the team.