To celebrate the stars many young athletes look up to, SportsEngine is shining the spotlight on professional sports role models, highlighting the formative years that helped propel them to greatness. We're starting the series with Dak Prescott, a two-time Pro Bowl quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. Email us at [email protected] if you have an athlete you would like spotlighted!
|Full Name:||Rayne Dakota Prescott|
|School:||Mississippi State University|
Prescott has two dogs, a French Bulldog named Icon and a Pit Bull named Legend.
His hobbies include golf and fishing.
He loves wearing bowties and even started his own line called DakTies in honor of his mother.
Dak Prescott’s mother, Peggy, was a massive influence on his early life
Rayne Dakota Prescott was the youngest of Peggy Prescott's three boys, and he quickly developed the nickname "Dak." As a single mom, Peggy worked two jobs at a diner and truck stop called Huddle House, but she still struggled to provide for her boys. They lived in a three-bedroom trailer east of Shreveport, Louisiana, in a town called Haughton. Peggy instilled hard work and generosity in her children, and her home became a safe haven for others.
Childhood friend Jacobi Griffin told Bleacher Report that he lived with the Prescott family for about two years. “She never turned her back on anyone,” said Phillip Ebarb, Peggy’s brother, “and that’s probably because she knew what it felt like because so many people turned their backs on her.” During his senior year, Prescott heard Peggy express disappointment that a fellow employee at the Huddle House couldn’t afford the one item on her five-year-old daughter’s wish list: a Nintendo Wii. Prescott headed to his bedroom, packed up the Wii he had purchased a few months earlier, and insisted Peggy give it to the girl. “Tell her it’s from Santa Claus.”
Prescott’s two older brothers gave him his competitive edge
Prescott followed his older brothers Tad and Jace everywhere, including their tackle football games. Even though he was the youngest, Prescott was fiercely competitive and tried to win at everything, from video games to basketball. “Being the youngest of three boys... you're taking a loss every day, no matter what it is," he said. "The one thing that gets you going is you’re the little brother — and you know all it takes is one win. One win. As a little brother, if you get one win, it’s the only thing that matters."
Prescott’s older brothers were great athletes at Haughton High School, with Tad once racking up six sacks in one game. But Haughton High coach Glenn Benton got the early scoop on the youngest Prescott. Another coach told him, "You think his brothers are good? Wait until (Dak) comes around," Benton recalled to the Dispatch. "Those coaches were licking their lips when he was in the seventh grade.”
Prescott wasn’t a standout in high school, and many big college programs passed him up
Prescott was not a starter until his junior season in high school, although he did flash his skills late in his sophomore year. During the postseason, he completed a flea-flicker pass that proved to be the game-winner with less than a minute remaining. Even after starting as a junior, Prescott wasn’t drawing interest from big-name programs, including Louisiana State University, the biggest in his state. "I still tell him he was an average high school player," former Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen said. "He wasn't real fast. He was like six feet and one inch, 200 pounds, ran an average 40 time, and he really didn't throw the ball very well."
MSU coach Mullen was the first to see and believe in Prescott’s potential
However, Mullen was impressed with Prescott’s intangibles: particularly his knack for improving his game and his quiet leadership. Mullen's staff offered him a scholarship before his senior year of high school. That year, Prescott led his team to an undefeated regular season with 39 touchdown passes. That's when LSU came calling, but he still chose to stick with Mississippi State. “I saw a young man with an unbelievable work ethic and a desire to be great in everything he does,” Mullen told the Dispatch. “I saw that when I was around him. He just has a drive to be great.”
After a slow start to his college career, Prescott eventually saw exponential success
Prescott redshirted at Mississippi State initially, and then appeared in 12 games in 2012, in which he completed 18-of-29 passes for 194 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. Prescott started the 2013 season as a backup once again, but he took over as the starting quarterback shortly after the first string suffered an injury. In 11 games, Dak completed 156-of-267 passes for 1,940 yards, 10 touchdowns, and seven interceptions, also adding 829 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. He earned the MVP award at the 2013 Liberty Bowl after leading MSU to a 44-7 victory over Rice.
Prescott became an early superstar in the NFL and always dedicates his success to his mother
Prescott’s biggest fan was always his mother. She died after a battle with colon cancer in November 2013. “She was my best friend, my mom, my coach, my trainer," Prescott told the Dispatch. "She wanted us to be tough, to be hard, so she was hard on us.” Prescott was the seventh quarterback selected in the 2016 NFL Draft, and he quickly moved up the depth chart, taking over when starting quarterback Tony Romo suffered an injury.
Prescott led the Cowboys to a 13-3 record in 2016 and was named the league's Offensive Rookie of the Year and selected to his first Pro Bowl. Whenever he scores a touchdown, he points to the sky in honor of his mother. "One of the real easy decisions I’ve had to make is having Dak Prescott as the quarterback of the Cowboys," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told reporters after signing the quarterback to a four-year, $160 million contract in March.