Chuck Burton
January 01, 2016

Dak Prescott came to Mississippi State as an anonymous quarterback prospect who barely received interest from most major schools.

Five years later he leaves as one of the best players in Bulldogs' history.

Prescott added one more great game to his outstanding career on Wednesday, throwing for 380 yards and four touchdowns to lead Mississippi State over North Carolina State 51-28 in the Belk Bowl.

It was a final reminder of just how good Prescott could be. It's also indicative of just how much the Bulldogs (9-4) relied on his talent and will miss him.

The 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior is just the fourth player in FBS history to throw for 9,000 career yards and run for 2,500, joining Florida's Tim Tebow, Nevada's Colin Kaepernick and Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour.

In his final season, he threw for 3,793 yards, 27 touchdowns and just five interceptions. He also ran for a team-high 588 yards and 10 touchdowns.

''It kind of seems like yesterday and then it seems like a lifetime ago that I was in his office for an official visit and he was selling the program to me,'' Prescott said. ''It was everything that I wanted to do. I believed in him 100 percent and now here we are five years later.''

Prescott's individual numbers are impressive, but it's the program's success during the past two seasons that has made the quarterback so popular around Starkville.

The Bulldogs won nine games in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history and Prescott had a 23-10 record as a starter over three years. His play helped push the program to the No. 1 spot in the national rankings for five straight weeks in the middle of the 2014 season.

Coach Dan Mullen credited Prescott and the rest of the seniors for helping the program's rise despite residing in the notoriously difficult Southeastern Conference Western Division.

''I feel like they have really changed what people think Mississippi State football is all about,'' Mullen said.

Now the Bulldogs must figure out how to move forward without their primary playmaker. Nick Fitzgerald and Elijah Staley - who will both be redshirt sophomores next season - are the two main candidates to take over at quarterback.

The Bulldogs should return a large chunk of the defense, especially in the front seven.

They also return several running backs and receivers, though junior De'Runnya Wilson, who caught 60 passes for 918 yards and 10 touchdowns, indicated he would turn pro in an Instagram post on Friday.

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Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP

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