Dak Prescott runs drills with young football players on Saturday, July 20, 2019 at Mississippi State University's Seal Football Complex. The camp was held for more than 350 players in grades 1-8. Photo by: Jennifer Mosbrucker/Dispatch Staff
July 20, 2019 7:52:09 PM
STARKVILLE -- Former Mississippi State and current Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott wasn't expecting it.
As he walked into The Little Dooey, one of his favorite food spots in Starkville, a banner graced the wall at the establishment off highway 12 that read "Welcome back Dak."
"I had no idea it was coming," he said of the sign. "That's an example of going to a place I loved to eat when I was here and then they've got a banner hung up knowing I'm in town and it's just special to be back."
The nod to the one-time MSU signal caller was the first of many warm welcomes he has enjoyed during his return to campus this weekend.
Prescott's appearance in his collegiate hometown has become an annual part of his summer agenda. Saturday and Sunday he's hosting the Dak Prescott Football ProCamp at the Leo Seal Jr. Football Complex at Mississippi State. Roughly 450 participants from first through eighth grade are expected in training sessions with Prescott and other counselors over the two-day event. A lunch was also provided for underprivileged campers Saturday.
This marks the third such-session of the offseason, as he held camps in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and his hometown of Haughton, Louisiana.
"I told the campers and the parents before that I get the privilege to do a lot of cool things and meet a lot of cool people," he said. "But being back in Starkville, the welcome you get, the love you get, there's nothing like it."
A lunch for underserved children is also on the docket.
Prescott's influence in Starkville persists beyond the the two-day event. Cowboys jerseys, bumper stickers and t-shirts are rampant across the state as MSU fans have adopted the team as their own with their former quarterback at the helm.
"There's not an NFL team (in Mississippi) so you find some (New Orleans) Saints fans or you find some fans that are looking for that team," Prescott said. "And I think I gave a lot of people in Mississippi that team to root for and it's just special to see not only the No. 15 (MSU) jerseys but to see the Dallas Cowboys' No. 4 as well."
Beyond football, he will host a luncheon Sunday with women involved with the American Cancer Society. His involvement with the group is well documented as he lost his mother, Peggy, to colon cancer his sophomore year at MSU.
"It means everything," Prescott said of working with the ACS. "Cancer is something near and dear to my heart and it affected the most inspirational person, the person that means the most in my life. So just partnering with them gives hope and faith and getting to meet some of the women who are survivors and some of the women who are going through it, I'm thankful for that partnership."
Prescott is currently preparing for his fourth year with the Cowboys. In three seasons as the Cowboys starter, he has amassed 10,876 yards and 67 touchdowns through the air and another 944 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground.
"I think my expectations for myself are way higher than what anybody has for me," Prescott said. "But for me to reach those expectations I know I need to come in each and every day with the right attitude, working hard, making others around me better and today's nothing short of that -- I'm just trying to get better in every aspect of my life and I know it will pay off."
As his brief session with gathered reporters closed, Prescott took a moment to reflect on the time since he first stepped on campus and present day.
"It'd be a whirlwind if I sat here and just tried to tell you the ups and the downs and everything that's happened," he said. "But it's made me who I am and wouldn't change anything about it.
I was blessed with an opportunity to play at this university by coach (Dan) Mullen and the reason I come back is the same reason I came to school -- the people, the hospitality and just the love that I feel."
Ben Portnoy reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @bportnoy15.
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