STARKVILLE — Two years before they lined up beside each other in the backfield at Mississippi State, tailback Josh Robinson had a message for Dak Prescott.
The scene was Prescott’s home field at Haughton High School in December 2010. At stake was a berth in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Class 4A semifinal. Robinson, a tailback from Franklinton High, and Prescott, Haughton’s starting quarterback, had just played pivotal roles in deciding Franklinton’s 49-41 win.
Prescott, committed to MSU at the time, had just played his final high school game, and Robinson’s Demons were moving on.
“I just ran up to him and shook his hand,” Robinson said. “At the time, we both knew we were going to be at Mississippi State together, but that was the first time we had been on the same field. I gave him a hug and said, ‘We’re going to do big things together.’ ”
The meeting was a snapshot of MSU’s future. Four years later, Prescott enters his redshirt junior season as one of the Southeastern Conference’s brightest rising stars, while Robinson owns the starting tailback position in Starkville for the first time.
It all started the night the future met.
It was cold the night of Dec. 9, 2010. But behind Robinson and Prescott, the teams entered with two of the state’s highest scoring offenses, and the frigid conditions offered little resistance.
Prescott, who accounted for 3,811 yards and 56 touchdowns as a senior, had led Haughton to a 13-0 record. Robinson, along with current LSU starting tailback Terrence Magee, the Demons’ quarterback, had helped Franklinton win 12 of its first 13 games on the way to the showdown in Haughton.
The two future Bulldogs put on a show.
“It was one of the most incredible high school football games I’ve seen,” Franklinton High School coach Shane Smith said. “Those two (Prescott and Robinson), you could tell there was something special about them even back then. (Prescott) was absolutely incredible.”
Prescott’s performance backed up Smith’s words. Five months after committing to MSU, Prescott exploded for 343 yards and threw for five touchdowns. He added 22 carries for 64 yards and a touchdown.
Prescott was unstoppable.
“You could tell he was such a winner of a kid,” Smith said. “The way he carried himself was outstanding for a high school player. We knew going in he would be hard to stop because of what we saw on film, but he was tougher than we thought. He just made plays by the force of his will. It’s hard to plan for that.”
Robinson was just as good.
Just as energetic and outgoing at Franklinton as he is at MSU, Smith said Robinson, “Has a passion not just for football, but for life. He is one of those emotional guys that’s hard not to like. And he’s a great football player.”
In the victory, Robinson carried the ball 10 times, but his impact was huge. The future Bulldog scored three times, including the clinching touchdown in the final five minutes that helped Franklinton continue a run that led to the 2010 Class 4A state championship.
“He ran all over our defense, so my impression that night was he was a great running back, but I knew that before we even played against him,” Prescott said of Robinson. “He ran like he runs today — hard with a low center of gravity. My team couldn’t tackle him that night.”
Not bad for a couple of three-star prospects who struggled to generate recruiting interest.
Rivals.com listed Prescott as the No. 33 dual-threat quarterback in the country in 2010, and MSU was his first SEC scholarship offer. But LSU offered Prescott a scholarship and made a late run at him, to no avail.
Last season, Prescott scored 25 touchdowns as a sophomore for the Bulldogs. There is a lot of anticipation he and MSU could have an even bigger season this year.
“I just knew I wanted to play for a guy like (Mississippi State coach) Dan Mullen,” Prescott said. “With all the quarterbacks he has coached, I felt he was the right fit for my skills. I really committed to a coach, not the school. But once I got here, I fell in love with the school.”
As for the night he and Robinson shared a field for the first time, Prescott said, “I knew he and I would eventually be in the same backfield together. We were pretty excited about being teammates.”
For his part, Robinson, who never stops smiling, refuses to wipe away a grin when talking about Prescott.
“Dak is just Dak,” Robinson said. “I knew that night he was going to be special. He makes it easy to be a running back in this offense, and I feel good every time I see him back there with me.”
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brandon Walker on Twitter @BWonStateBeat