STARKVILLE — Dak Prescott could have gone anywhere.
But Prescott didn’t have to think long when he considered destinations for the first stop on his summer tour of the Southeast following a standout rookie season for the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.
“Everything that Mississippi State’s done for me. I know how pivotal these years were and these moments in my life,” Prescott said. “Everything this University, this town and the state of Mississippi has done for me, when we started picking towns to bring this camp to, this was a no-brainer.”
The former Mississippi State quarterback made the comments Tuesday morning during the first of two sessions of the adidas Dak Prescott Football ProCamp at the MSU football complex. The camp featured 700 campers at a morning and an evening session.
“I’ve got so much love and thanks for this community and this state,” Prescott said. “For them to show it back — the parents, staying out here in this weather, the jerseys, the smiles on their faces — it’s special.”
Prescott’s tour will end with a camp at Haughton High School in Louisiana, his alma mater, and a two-day camp in Corinth, Texas, 35 miles north of Dallas.
Prescott’s popularity in Starkville a year and a half after his final game for MSU was apparent with the campers.
“I love that. Hopefully I can bring excitement to their day or change something in their life,” Prescott said. “I know the platform I have, so I feel like this is something it’s necessary that I do, to do these camps, give back, interact with these kids, give them life lessons and get them better in the community. I’ve been blessed to have this platform, so it’s important to me to do this.”
ProCamps, Inc., which organizes youth athletic camps for a number of professional athletes, helped Prescott bring the event to Starkville. Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Karl-Anthony Towns, and New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman also have worked with the company.
“It’s an opportunity for me, an opportunity for them and for every one of these coaches out here to make relationships, get better and learn something from the person next to you,” Prescott said. “Learn something about the game and learn something about life.”
On Monday, NFL Network ranked Prescott 14th on its list of the NFL’s top 100 players in the NFL. Prescott ranked higher than veteran quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, and Russell Wilson. He completed 67.8 percent of his passes and threw for 3,667 yards and 23 touchdowns (four interceptions) last season to earn The Associated Press NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Prescott edged teammate Ezekiel Elliott for the honor after he started all 16 games and led the Cowboys to a 13-3 record and the NFC’s top playoff seed.
That honor came on the same day as Prescott’s successor at MSU, Nick Fitzgerald, was ranked as the 97th-best player in college football by Sports Illustrated. The ranking, part of SI’s Top 100 players, comes after Fitzgerald racked up 3,798 yards of offense — 2,423 passing, 1,375 rushing — last season with 21 passing touchdowns and 16 rushing touchdowns.
Prescott offered his opinion on how the 2017 Bulldogs will fare.
“Win,” Prescott said. “That’s easy.”
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson