Dak Prescott, Mississippi State’s star quarterback, reminds N.C. State coach Dave Doeren of another SEC quarterback who had a brilliant career both as a runner and a passer.
“He looks like Tebow, presence-wise, but he can throw the football a lot better,” Doeren said. “He’s a really good quarterback.”
That’s former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, a lightning rod for criticism in the NFL but one of the most productive and decorated college quarterbacks of all time.
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen was the offensive coordinator at Florida when Tebow won the Heisman Trophy in 2007. Mullen also worked with Tebow when the Gators won the national title in 2006 and ’08.
Prescott and Tebow are the only SEC quarterbacks, and two of the four in Bowl Subdivision history, to throw for more than 60 career touchdowns and rush for more than 40.
Prescott, a senior, leads the Bulldogs (8-4) into Wednesday’s Belk Bowl matchup with N.C. State (7-5) at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
A two-time All-SEC quarterback, Prescott is the Bulldogs’ leading rusher (541 yards, 10 touchdowns) and threw for 3,413 yards.
35 TDs for Miss. State QB Dak Presscott
24 TDs for N.C. State QB Jacoby Brissett
4 Interceptions thrown by each
He led the SEC in completion percentage (66.9) and ranked third in touchdown passes (25) and only threw four interceptions.
Prescott’s composure impressed Doeren the most.
“When things aren’t good and they break down, he’s just really calm and makes good decisions,” Doeren said.
And Prescott’s athletic attributes – at 6-2 and 230 pounds he’s a strong runner and difficult to tackle – aren’t even close to his leadership ability, senior cornerback Taveze Calhoun said.
“I’ve played with some talented guys who have played quarterback here, but he’s just a true leader and being a quarterback of the offense,” Calhoun said during a media availability in Charlotte after practice this week. “None compare to him, and that’s what separates him from every quarterback that’s ever played here.”
As a junior, Prescott led the Bulldogs to the No. 1 spot in the initial College Football Playoff rankings last season. Mississippi State started 9-0 last year before losing three of its last four games.
The Bulldogs started this season at 7-2 before losing to both SEC champion Alabama and rival Ole Miss in a three-game span for the second year in a row.
N.C. State has its own dual-threat quarterback in senior Jacoby Brissett, who ran for 303 yards and five touchdowns and threw for 2,448 yards with 19 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Brissett and Prescott both went to the Manning Passing Academy last summer. Brissett said he was impressed by Prescott’s throwing ability. The Bulldogs rank No. 17 in the country in passing offense (311.1 yards per game).
“It’s going to be fun,” Brissett said of the quarterback matchup. “I don’t think it’s going to come down to just us. It’s going to come down to our whole team and how everybody handles the bowl trip.”
N.C. State, which ranks No. 19 in the country in total defense, hasn’t faced too many quarterbacks like Prescott, who is comparable in size and skill set to UNC’s Marquise Williams.
Williams threw for 174 yards and ran for 53 in a 45-34 UNC win in N.C. State’s last game on Nov. 28.
One advantage Prescott has over either Williams or Brissett is two productive options at receiver. Junior Fred Ross led the Bulldogs with 81 catches for 933 yards. Lanky junior De’Runnya Wilson (6-5 and 215 pounds) led the team with nine touchdown catches and has 822 yards on the season.
Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio
Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott and N.C. State’s Jacoby Brissett both do a lot for their respective offenses. The 2015 stats for each senior: