While Dak Prescott‘s legacy and lore will likely live on at Mississippi State for many years to come, his eligibility did not.
The Bulldogs have an open competition this spring as they search for Prescott’s replacement. A quartet of quarterbacks – junior Damian Williams, sophomores Nick Fitzgerald and Elijah Staley and redshirt freshman Nick Tiano – are currently vying for the chance to step into Prescott’s looming shadow.
“There’s pressure on us anyways just being a starting quarterback in the SEC,” Tiano said. “But we’re also obviously trying to follow up such a great player. He gave us such a great example to follow and we’re doing that to the best of our ability.”
On the surface, it would seem that Tiano is the least likely of the group to win the job next season. The other three quarterbacks have on-field experience while the 6-foot-4, 231-pounder sat out last season running the scout team during his redshirt year.
But Tiano has taken just as many first team snaps as the others as reps have been divided between the quarterbacks.
“The competition has been great,” Tiano said. “We all love each other. We’re just out here trying to get better every day. We’re not thinking about it like it’s a me versus you. We are all just trying to get better and do what’s best for the team.”
Tiano wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school. In fact, the former three-star prospect only other offers were a late offer from Miami and his hometown program, Chattanooga.
Tiano was however the top ranked quarterback prospect in Tennessee throwing for 2,096 yards, 16 touchdowns and only three interceptions as a senior. He also added 723 rushing yards and eight more scores for Baylor School.
Soon after arriving at MSU last summer, Tiano realized the challenge ahead of him in college. Redshirting last season allowed him to adjust to every aspect of his new surroundings.
“It was huge for me both physically and mentally,” Tiano said. “I had to get my body prepared to compete and get my mind ready to see the field. Everything is happening faster and is more complicated. When I first got here, I was real shaky and didn’t know what I was doing. But as the days went by I got more comfortable and it gets easier and easier.”
Prescott himself feels that Tiano is the Bulldogs’ quarterback of the future. Although he’s honored by the endorsement, Tiano is simply sticking to the things he can control this spring.
“I just want to be a great leader for my teammates,” Tiano said. “I want to run the offense smoothly and be consistent every single day and bring a great attitude and a great effort.”