For most of the 2014 college football season, Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott made a mighty push for the Heisman Trophy. While Prescott -- who helped lead the Bulldogs to 10 wins and their highest Associated Press poll finish since 1940 (11th) -- didn't make that coveted December trip to New York City, he was still going to have a tough decision to make at season's end.
That decision, whether to forgo his senior year and turn pro or stay in school, was officially made Wednesday with Prescott deciding to stick around in Starkville for another year.
While Prescott had every reason to flirt with the NFL after a breakout season that included 3,449 passing yards with 27 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, he made a wise decision to stay. He not only gets another shot at an SEC title but he can also improve his draft status by making crucial in-game improvements during one more year of college ball.
There's no doubt that Prescott is physically ready for the NFL. The 6-foot-2, 230-pounder is an excellent dual threat (986 yards and 14 scores) who had no issue running over opponents -- big and small -- but there are technical things he must improve on before he's really ready for the big show. His decision-making and patience in the pocket have to get better when things break down around him.
He has to learn that he can't make great plays every time he has the ball. Even the great quarterbacks have to know when to take marginal losses to keep from creating bigger problems. Sometimes, Prescott lacked in that area.
There were times down the stretch when Prescott rushed through progressions and hurt his team by pressing. Eight of Prescott's 11 interceptions came in conference play, including three in Mississippi State's 25-20 loss to Alabama. In the Bulldogs' three losses, Prescott threw six touchdowns with five turnovers, and during a three-game stretch against Auburn, Kentucky and Arkansas -- all Mississippi State wins -- Prescott threw five interceptions to three touchdowns.
But another year with quarterback guru Dan Mullen should go a long way for the senior-to-be. Just think about how raw he was coming out of high school. Now he just turned down a chance to get drafted after his junior year in college. That's pretty remarkable, and Prescott still has more he can accomplish.
With Mississippi State's offense losing a few valuable pieces from the 2014 season, Prescott has a chance to prove himself in 2015 with changes coming around him. Star running back Josh Robinson, who finished the season ranked third in the SEC with 1,203 rushing yards, declared for the draft early, while three starters along the offensive line are gone. Top receiver De'Runnya Wilson is back with a solid group of youngsters, but Prescott will have his work cut out for him when it comes to keeping this offense going after last season's success.
Keeping things steady will depend on Prescott's improvements with the little things. If Prescott can engineer this offense similarly to the way he did in 2014, the Bulldogs will fight to be contenders in the SEC West again and plenty of NFL folks will be even more impressed with him.