In the world of 24/7 news and instant updates on social media, we often find ourselves forced to try to answer questions prematurely, especially in the world of sports. There is a constant drumbeat to determine what a top-ten play is for the day or if someone has become the greatest ever at what they do. With the conclusion of Dak Prescott's career, much of the same has come up with Bulldog fans. The scribes of this blog attempted to answer a few questions about Prescott's time at Mississippi State and where he ranks with all who have played football for the Maroon and White. Our discussion follows below:
1) Dak Prescott had many exciting plays and participated in some wild games in his career. Which were your favorites?
Reid Coker: Arkansas this season. You'll never see a QB as dialed in and in control of an offense as he was that night. And it was easily the most exciting game MSU has been a part of in a long time. Favorite play: The 2014 run against LSU where he stiff armed Jalen Mills into the ground and took it to the house. That play cannot be shown enough.
WMD: I'm going with the LSU game last year as my favorite game.. It announced MSU's arrival as a legitimate threat to the big boys, and Dak led the way. He was sharp all night, passing and running. It was one of those games where elite players stand out and Dak did.
My favorite play is from the Kentucky game in Starkville two years ago. I believe it was in the third quarter. UK gets caught offsides. Dak realizes it and understands he has a free play. He moves to his right and slings up a deep jump ball. I don't remember who the WR was, but I want to think it was Bear or Fred Ross. Regardless, the WR goes up, wins it, then races for a TD. The play went for about 60 yards or so, if I'm remembering it correctly. It's my favorite because it's one of those heady, football savvy plays that we have rarely seen from a QB at MSU. And it was an element of the offense we haven't had over the years - the ability to take a risk and make a huge play when the play breaks down or the defense makes a mistake. You see other teams make those plays, and usually they make them against us. But this night, it was Dak making the play for us.
Prediction? Pain: They both occurred in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on September 20, 2014. Dak's performance under the lights in Death ValleyâPassing: 15-24, 268 yards, 2 TDs; Rushing: 105 yards, 1 TDâwas something to behold. He had shown flashes of greatness in games before (such as the 2013 Auburn, A&M, and Rice games), but this was something else. This was domination in a forum in which MSU players just didn't dominate, at least not in my lifetime.
And the play that epitomized that performance? The same one you're thinking of as you read this:
Justin Sutton: I think it's hard to think of a more exciting play than the LSU stiffarm. One part of that play that gets over looked is the block from De'Runnya Wilson. If he doesn't get downfield for it, Dak may not score. I'd go with that as my favorite play. Another play that always sticks out to me is the touchdown pass to Fred Ross against Arkansas in 2014. With the game tied at 10 -10 in the fourth, Prescott kept a play alive and improvised with Ross for the game winner.
2) What is your favorite Dak Prescott story?
RC: The way he was miraculously able to play in the 2nd half of the 2013 Egg Bowl despite missing the previous couple of games with a nerve injury. It was a gutsy performance coming in cold off the bench, and MSU doesn't come back to win that game if he doesn't play.
WMD: Despite losing, the career day - to that point - he had the week his mom passed away. He just came out with a completely different level of focus and intensity, going blow-for-blow with Johnny Manziel. Again, a type of day when you just knew you had a truly special player on your hands.
P?P!: The one where he spun together the threads of a spider web into a rope he used to repel down a gorge to rescue a baby that was drifting down a river toward the edge of a waterfall. Or maybe the one where he fought off a band of ninja assassins who were trying to keep him from helping an elderly woman cross the street as she led him to the tree where her newborn kitten was stuck.
JS: That's a tough one. The Egg Bowl in 2013 sticks out in my mind. I wrote the cover (for the now defunct) Maroon Magazine based on that game. The Texas A&M game that same season sticks out as well. Off the field, the story of Prescott getting kicked in the shin on campus was pretty funny.
To me though, I have always found it impressive how genuinely interested he seems during the community service events in which the Bulldogs participate. That just means so much to the people involved.
3) What made Dak Prescott so special at Mississippi State?
RC: I think what made him special was the great character he showed throughout his career. He's a selfless player who always gives the credit to his teammates, and he never placed the blame on anybody else when things went wrong. He will be a blessing to any NFL team's locker room.
WMD: More so than his talent, I'd have to say his drive and work ethic. You don't put up careers numbers in the category of Tim Tebow and Johnny Football without working really hard to hone your skills, understand the game, and know your opponents. Off the field, his character in general. Dak is one of those truly special people in life. He's a natural leader that everyone wants to follow.
P?P!: Heaping helpings of talent, athleticism, intelligence, work ethic, and character. He played hard on every down. He got better every year in the system. He could improvise. He could embarrass you with his arms, his legs, his field vision, or his adamantium claws. He may not have made every play, but he damn sure made a lot of them. And he never once made you defend some act or statement that you wish hadn't come from someone in a Bulldog uniform. Just a stand-up guy who I was happy to watch once a week for a few months a year.
JS: Dak turned out to be a player that everyone could like. He didn't do anything foolish, and he made the game fun to watch. He's special because he led this team in an effort to transform Mississippi State football. He quarterbacked the squad to the No. 1 ranking and a trip to the Orange Bowl. No one seriously thought that was happening any time soon. The team that he led allowed Bulldog fans to experience things they never had before as fans; that is why he is special on the field.
Everyone could just connect to him. I'll give you this example. My son just turned six, and every time we through the football, he tells me that he wants to be the quarterback at Mississippi State when he grows up. He's also going to wear 15. How many kids in the past grew up wanting to be the quarterback at Mississippi State? I'm not sure, but I bet it is a much larger number now. I know this. I'm going to miss him in Starkville.
4) Is Dak the greatest to play football at Mississippi State?
RC: Dak is absolutely the best MSU has ever had. He completely rewrote the record books. Records are made to be broken and many of his will be broken someday, but as of right now it's not even a debate as to who the best player in MSU history is. It's No. 15.
WMD: Dak is the best at MSU and it isn't even close. To repeat, his career numbers are only equaled by Tim Tebow and Johnny Football. Both of those guys won a Heisman Trophy. He's one of the best QBs in SEC history, much less MSU's very mediocre QB history. Dak owns every QB record possible at MSU, both single game and career. Records are made to be broken, and some of them - maybe all of them - will be broken at some point. But as it stands, Dak won more games than anyone in program history and elevated MSU to unprecedented success. The only "stains" on his legacy, if you're looking to nitpick, is going 0-fer against Bama and 1-2 against Northern Miss. If it were up to me, Dak's name would go in the Ring of Honor immediately. He's earned it.
P?P!: My omnipotence ain't what it used to be, but I will say that I've seen some amazing athletes play for MSU's football team in my twenty or so years of fandom. Eric Moulds. Bouie and Davis. Smoot and Bean. Jerious Norwood. And so on. But the amazing athlete touches the ball on every offensive play, it's hard not to develop an opinion about the guy that transcends the ones you had of those other players. "Best ever" may be slightly hyperbolic (especially when you're talking about an offensive player in an era when offenses everywhere have essentially all re-written record books across the country), but he's got as good an argument as the other candidates. So sure, why not.I will add this, though. The feeling I had watching Dak in his last moments as a Mississippi State player is not one that I've had watching other players take their last snaps. Maybe I'm just getting sappy and nostalgic in my not-really-all-that-old age. But maybe not. Maybe I felt what I felt because I was watching someone close out a career that brought with it success that hadn't been experienced in generations.
JS: Best ever questions always worry me. Dak is the best quarterback ever at Mississippi State. I'll give you that. I just think football is too hard to compare positions against each other. The quarterback position is like a goalie in hockey or a pitcher in baseball. They have more control on the success of a team than any other spot 99% of the time. As such, their greatness and failures are always intensified.
There have been some amazing players come through Starkville. Johnthan Banks just won the Thorpe Award a couple of years ago. He had two pick-sixes against a reigning Heisman winner. I bet that is the only time that has happened, and if you through in Florida's No. 1 ranking and make it two pick-sixes against a reigning Heisman winner on the No. 1 team in the nation, I'd bet the farm it is the only time it has happened. Players like Kent Hull, Mardye McDole, and Eric Moulds can't be forgotten.
Gun to my head, yes, Dak is the best ever. I just think that greatness is tough to quantify across positions in football.
Perhaps saying he did more to elevate Mississippi State than any other player is a better assessment. However in doing so, you run the risk of alienating so many from the past few season. So, maybe the best answer is that he was the leader of the team that took Mississippi State football to heights it had never climbed. I think that's the best way to answer that question.