When you think about Mississippi State football, a few people come to mind: Jackie Sherrill, Johnie Cooks, Kent Hull, Fred Smoot, Eric Moulds, and the list can go on and on. Well it is time to add one more name into that heralded list of players. Not only can you add him to the list, but he needs at the top of the list. I am talking about none other than Dak Prescott. Dak Prescott has taken this program to heights never before seen by the maroon and white faithful; he has completely destroyed the Mississippi State record books, but, most importantly, he has achieved all of this with such class rarely seen in a player of Prescott’s caliber. So I have decided to go back and look at what makes Dak the greatest and one of the most beloved players to ever come through Starkville.
Prescott was a 3 star recruit out of Haughton, Louisiana. He was relatively unknown until Mississippi State gave him his first big offer. During his senior season, Prescott started to gain more attention. Les Miles and LSU made a strong push for him before signing day. The time came for Dak to make a decision and his mother, Peggy Prescott wanted that decision to be LSU. Dak sat down with his mother and explained to her that he wanted to honor his commitment that he had already made to Dan Mullen and the Bulldogs. This is the kind of character that Prescott has exemplified from the very beginning. Dan Mullen knew he had a leader on the team from the beginning.
Passing of Peggy Prescott
The story of Peggy Prescott was well known during the 2013 season. She died due to colon cancer on November 3, 2013. Dak returned to practice that week, stating that he needed to be with his family…his football family. The entire Hail State family rallied around Dak and his family for weeks to come. I cant begin to imagine what he went through, nor do I want to know. How did Prescott react? He went on the road to College Station to face Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M Aggies. He had 16 carries for 154 yards, and he also threw for 149 yards and 2 touchdowns. This was a preview of what Bulldog nation was about to witness for the next 2 years.
Egg Bowl- 2013
This chapter of the Dak Prescott story is like something you would see in a movie. I still to this day get chills thinking about it. Dak Prescott was injured in the aforementioned Texas A&M game on a long run. He was forced to miss the Alabama and Arkansas games from that year. Doctors told Dan Mullen at the beginning of the week that there was absolutely no way that Dak could play in the Egg Bowl. Tyler Russell was also ruled out with an injury that he suffered on the second to last play of regulation against Arkansas. So Dan Mullen was forced to start Damian Williams. However when Dak went to the doctor the day before the game, the doctor gave him the thumbs up to play. The doctor told Mullen that he had never seen anything like that before.
Damian Williams still got the start, and he did a great job keeping the Bulldogs in the game. The defense played a great game by not allowing an offensive touchdown. Then with 11 minutes left in the 4th quarter, Prescott went to Mullen and said it was time for him to play. What unfolded next was very surreal. Dak led the team down the field to score on his second drive to tie the game at 10. Then, the Bulldogs got the ball back, and once again Dak led the Dawgs down the field. Unfortunately (or fortunately…however you want to look at it), the field goal was missed on the last play of regulation. Overtime would be played for the first time ever in an Egg Bowl. Mississippi State found themselves in a 3rd and long situation, and Prescott found Jameon Lewis across the middle. However Lewis was 2 yards short of the first down. Mississippi State called a timeout and Mullen intended to send out the field goal unit. Dak went to Mullen and told him that he could get the first down. Mullen had faith in Dak, and Dak delivered. Not only did he get the first down, he got a touchdown. The Dawgs would take a 17-10 lead that they would never relinquish, sealing the deal with a Bo Wallace fumble into the endzone. The Dak Prescott hype train started rolling after that game and really picked up steam after he amassed 361 total yards and 5 total touchdowns against Rice in the Liberty Bowl.
Dak, for obvious reasons, received a lot of hype going into the season. He would by far exceed those expectations. Prescott started the season off by doing what he had to do: beating Southern Miss, UAB, and South Alabama. Then came a tall task, traveling to Baton Rouge to face number 8 LSU in Death Valley. Dak and the Bulldogs destroyed the Tigers on that day. The scoreboard only read 34-29 at the end, but ask anyone who watched the game: the Bulldogs dominated. Prescott had his Heisman moment on a 56 yard touchdown run, in which he stiff armed a would be tackler on his way to the endzone. Then on the next drive, Dak escaped pressure in the pocket and found a wide open Jameon Lewis for a 74 yard touchdown. The Bulldogs cruised from there. That week the Bulldogs jumped to 14 in the polls and then to 12 after the bye week.
The next week, the Bulldogs welcomed SEC Nation to town, as the Bulldogs took on the Aggies of Texas A&M. Heisman front runner Kenny Hill came into the game expecting to pass all over the Dawgs. Not the case, as the Bulldogs looked dominant once again with a 48-31 win. Mississippi State found themselves in a bitter sweet moment (more sweet than bitter…but still) when the polls came out. They were tied with the Ole Miss Rebels for 3rd in the AP Poll.
Then, for the third consecutive week, the Dawgs would play a top ten opponent. This time Mississippi State played host to number 2 Auburn Tigers. College Gameday was on hand for the first time in the schools history. The Tigers gifted the Bulldogs two straight turnovers to start the game and Mississippi State found themselves up 21-0 early. The game was later sealed by a Justin Cox interception and celebration ensued. I have been going to games for years and have never seen a celebration like that. The band played the fight song and the alma mater, and yet not a single fan had left the stadium, because at that moment, every Bulldog fan knew that when the polls came out the following day that the Mississippi State Bulldogs would be number 1 in the country. Something that had never been done before in Starkville. The Bulldogs would finish the season 10-3 after losing in the Orange Bowl to Georgia Tech. Dak would go on to receive a unanimous first team all SEC selection and 8th in the Heisman voting.
The 2015 team did not receive the hype that the 2014 team did simply because they did not start off as hot. This team could be better than that team. That remains to be seen however. Prescott can only add to his already stellar list of accomplishments by winning out and leading his team to two consecutive 10 win seasons. That has never been done before at Mississippi State. Also the possibility of a Sugar Bowl is not out of the question. The Sugar Bowl is forced by contract to take the highest ranked SEC team not in the top 4. If Florida were to lose against Florida State on Saturday and also lose to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, and Mississippi State were to beat Ole Miss, things will get interesting.
Auburn has Bo, Georgia has Herchel, Tennessee has Manning, and now Mississippi State has Dak Prescott. You can go to any of those other campuses mentioned and still see their jerseys being worn on game days years after they left. That will stay true for the #15 jerseys. It will be staple for game day attire for years to come. It won’t be too long until Prescott’s name will be added to the Ring of Honor in Davis Wade Stadium. So everyone who is able needs to make the trip to Starkville on Saturday and cheer as loud as you can for the best player to ever wear the maroon and white. Win or lose on Saturday, I encourage fans to cheer Dak Prescott as he walks off of the field for the last time. It may be along time until we see someone of his caliber play for the Bulldogs again. Dak, you will be missed.