Mississippi State fans had a reason to cheer Wednesday afternoon.
And there wasn’t even a game.
Quarterback Dak Prescott announced Wednesday at a press conference that he will be returning for his senior year after mulling over whether or not to enter the National Football League Draft.
Prescott pointed to current NFL signal callers and their decisions to come back to their schools for their senior years, really influencing his decision.
“Looking at the NFL quarterbacks now, playing in the playoffs, you’re talking about Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, some of those guys who had a chance to leave early during their career, but didn’t. They decided to come back for another year. I want to do that as well,” Prescott said.
He had a gut feeling about returning for his senior year after losing the Egg Bowl to in-state rival Ole Miss, but his decision was made after the Bulldogs lost to Georgia Tech in the Capital One Orange Bowl to end the season.
“I wouldn’t want to finish a career at such a great place and leave on a note like that, not to mention we don’t have the golden trophy, the most special trophy in the state,” Prescott said. “I want to make sure that returns home where it belongs next year when I have the opportunity to play in that game again.”
Prescott filed papers with the NFL in December to see where he could possibly be drafted if he came out early, but Prescott never commented on the feedback he received.
He said it wasn’t important.
“I want to redefine my skills,” Prescott said. “It’s just some things on the field that I want to get better at. I want to get better at every aspect of the quarterback position, my feet, my pocket awareness and all kind of things. Being more consistent overall as a quarterback and as a leader is what I want to do, and I don’t think the grade had anything to do with this decision.”
Prescott is one of three Bulldog underclassmen who entertained the idea of leaving for the professional level, but the Haughton, La., native is the only who will be returning. Linebacker Benardrick McKinney and running back Josh Robinson have already declared for the draft.
“We’re excited Dak’s coming back,” MSU head coach Dan Mullen said. “Obviously everybody knows what type of young man he is. Unbelievable young man and great leader for our program. Has the opportunity to do some special things.”
Prescott led the Bulldog offense to the tops in the Southeastern Conference. MSU led the league in total offense for the first time since 1982, putting up a school-record 513.8 yards per game. That figure ranked eighth nationally.
The signal caller was a big reason for the good offensive play this season. He finished sixth nationally in total offense per game, with 341.2 yards per contest. He also broke 12 school records.
Prescott finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting after being one of the front-runners midway through the season. He completed 244-of-396 yards for 3,449 yards and 27 touchdowns during his junior campaign. Prescott only threw 11 interceptions and completed 61.6 percent of his passes. He rushed 986 yards on 210 carries and a team-high 14 touchdowns. He also caught two passes for 35 yards and another score.
“When you talk about the development of the quarterback position, it takes a really, really long time,” MSU quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson said who played quarterback under Mullen for one year at Utah. “There’s constant evaluation, constant improvement that can be made. He had a great individual year. With more reps, I think he’ll continue to get more comfortable, and I think with him coming back, I think the game will slow down even more for him.”