Dak not buying into the hype

BY LOGAN LOWERY
DAILY JOURNAL
STARKVILLE – Dak Prescott has already become a local celebrity around Mississippi State.
But his performance on the field in 2013 has generated enough offseason buzz that Prescott’s popularity has extended far beyond campus.
The rising junior is considered one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country and even a darkhorse candidate for the Heisman Trophy.
“Everyone is going to have expectations, good or bad,” Prescott said.
“In this facility, we have our own expectations. That’s all we’re worried about is reaching and making sure everybody is reaching their individual expectations.”
This season, Prescott is learning under another former quarterback who attained his share of outside attention. Brian Johnson won more games than any other signal caller at the University of Utah, being named the 2009 Sugar Bowl MVP and even making the cover of the EA Sports video game NCAA Football 10.
“He’s not naïve to that stuff, by any stretch of the imagination,” Johnson said of Prescott. “But he understands that there is work to be done. When it’s all said and done he can go back and talk about all that. You have to be so laser focused in on that very moment with what you’re trying to accomplish that you really don’t have time for outside distractions.”
One of the areas Prescott is seeking improvement is in his passing. Last fall, he completed 156 of 267 passes for 1,940 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
“I came in as an average passer and was more known for my running,” Prescott said. “That was one of the things I’ve worked on throughout my college career and I think I’ve gotten better every year.”
Prescott’s .588 career completion percentage is the highest in school history.
The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder from Haughton, La., was also the Bulldogs’ leading rusher last season carrying 134 times for 829 yards and led the SEC among quarterbacks with 13 touchdowns.
However his physical running style cost him nearly three games of action after injuring his shoulder late in the Texas A&M contest. It was a lesson learned the hard way.
“I have to be smart and realize that I’m a passer, protect myself and my shoulders,” Prescott said. “I have to be able to pass the ball so I can’t just be a downhill, nasty runner. I have to be smart and know when to get down or get out of bounds.”
Head coach Dan Mullen has not seen Prescott’s recent fame change his demeanor. He still sees the same drive and work ethic that he discovered in the former three-star prospect in the summer of 2010.
“I think some people are wired different,” Mullen said. “He’s a winner. In his mind, he wakes up every morning wanting to be the best that he can be and doesn’t look for a short cut or any other way other than through hard work. That is how people become successful, he just happens to be playing quarterback.”
logan.lowery@journalinc.com