Nov 29, 2014; Oxford, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott (15) drops back for a pass against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. The Rebels won 31-17. Mandatory Credit: Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports
Dak Prescott will not be attending the Heisman Trophy Presentation in New York City this weekend. There were only three finalists chosen: Marcus Mariotta of Oregon, Amari Cooper of Alabama, and Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin. Mariotta is going to be as close to a unanimous winner as there has ever been, so it only makes sense to invite a small number of candidates. There wasn’t any use inviting another quarterback.
But that doesn’t take away from the incredible year that Dak Prescott posted for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Prescott entered the season with less than a full season of starts under his belt, but led the Bulldogs to their first ever 10 win regular season. He was also named the First Team All SEC Quarterback by the Associated Press and is a finalist for the Maxwell, Davey O’Brien and Manning Awards. For at least four weeks, and possibly more, Dak Prescott was the odds on favorite to win the award. That’s a lot for a guy who only had a handful of starts entering the season, and he was leading a team that was 7-6 after their bowl game the prior year.
I’m sure there are a lot of Mississippi State fans disappointed to learn that Prescott would not be included in this year’s trophy presentation, but it’s not hard to imagine that next year will be even better for Prescott. Yes, there is the possibility that Prescott could declare for the NFL Draft, but he told Sports Illustrated that he would only go if Prescott was projected to be a 1st or 2nd round pick. The highest I have seen anyone rate him is a marginal third round pick for this year’s draft. Prescott should improve in every facet of the game for 2015. His stock will be much higher when the 2016 draft rolls around.
The most significant losses in the receiving corps will be Jameon Lewis and tight end Malcolm Johnson. Lewis played sparingly due to injury and Johnson’s backup and heir apparent will be Gus Walley who showed some flashes of being really good. Lewis was the leading returning receiver in the SEC entering the 2014 season, but was never able to get fully back on track after he suffered a leg injury against LSU. Gabe Myles played well in his place, and Jamoral Graham may have struggled returning punts, but that wasn’t the reason he was brought to Mississippi State. He was brought here to excel in the slot, and he may get the opportunity to do just that next season. Both players will be pushed hard by incoming JUCO All American Doanld Gray who has been tearing up the Junior College ranks at Co-Lin Community College.
Dak Prescott will get plenty of support from the running game as well. Second Team All SEC Running Back Josh Robinson will return for his senior season. Ashton Shumpert played superbly in his final two games of the season to continue to push Robinson to greatness, and they both might be eclipsed by Aeris Williams who will be a redshirt freshman in 2015. Williams was one of the highest recruited players in the state of Mississippi and big things are expected of him.
The biggest question for the offense in 2015 will be the offensive line. The Bulldogs lose 3 of their 5 starters. The backups have seen playing time, so it isn’t like this will be the first time they have ever stepped on the field. But there will always be an adjustment phase when introducing new players as starters for the first time ever.
Prescott will have a myriad of weapons at his disposal. We are losing some offensive firepower, but this is a year when Mississippi State can honestly say they are just reloading, not rebuilding on the offense. Bear Wilson will be poised to become an elite receiver in 2015, and Prescott will only improve his accuracy from his junior season to his senior campaign. Just because it didn’t happen for Dak in 2014, it’s more likely that he was a year ahead of the curve to begin with.