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Memory Lane: Cowboys draft backup QB Dak Prescott in 2016

Four years ago, the Dallas Cowboys drafted Dak Prescott in Round 4 to back up Tony Romo. Little did they know, they had found the quarterback of the future.
Credit: AP Photo/Mark Tenally, File
In this Sept. 18, 2016, file photo, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) celebrates a touchdown against the Washington Redskins.

Dak Prescott spent the first two days of the 2016 NFL Draft anxious and annoyed. Six quarterbacks had gone off the board, but none of them were the seniors from Mississippi State.

"I was nervous," Prescott said in a Q-and-A with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Big Pines in Longview, Texas, on April 27, 2017. "I was a little upset this time because picks were going off and I planned to go in the second or third round. So, I had a good feeling I would go with them. But each day I kind of got to feeling a little bit more nervous, a little bit more anxious, a little bit more upset." 

This anxiety and anger was interrupted by an auspice outing on the waters of Toledo Bend during the morning of Rounds 2-3.

"It was a Friday, I went fishing," Prescott recalled. "I always went fishing on Friday. As I thought that was going to be the day that I was going to be picked, so I got out there to fish.”

"So, I'm just throwing this bass rod and throwing them in the high grass where they all are. I've been throwing here, throwing it there. I threw it for the last time. This is my last cast; I'm done for the day. And I throw it in and, boom, sure enough a bass hits it and it's a big six or seven-pounder. 

And when I caught it, I knew, 'I'm getting drafted today. This is a good sign. I've been trying to get this bass all day. I've been trying to get a big fish all week, and it just hit this morning. I'm getting drafted.'"

Instead, Prescott had to wait another day, and another quarterback, until the Cowboys used their 135th overall pick, a compensatory pick, at the end of Round 4 to take the Haughton, La., native.

Said Prescott: "It was well worth the wait, to wait until Saturday, to grow up a Cowboys fan, and get that call from a 214 area code ⁠— it all started going through my head, 'Is this for real?' Then to hear [owner] Jerry Jones and Coach [Jason] Garrett call on the other line, it was well worth the wait. It was a dream come true."

Prescott's father was a Cowboys fan, and the loyalty was in Dak's DNA. Prescott could now play for America's Team and still be three hours from home.

The former Haughton High School Buccaneer didn't think he would play much in 2016 because 36-year-old quarterback Tony Romo was still the face of the franchise. 

"I thought I would be the scout team guy for the whole year or a couple of years or whatever it took," said Prescott. "But I knew I was going to come in and get ready. But, yeah, I thought only practice. I didn't expect to get into any games."

Instead, Prescott benefited from a few unlucky breaks. Backup quarterback Kellen Moore broke his ankle in training camp in Oxnard, Calif., and then Romo broke his back in the third preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks in the Pacific Northwest. Prescott, who was battling with Jameill Showers for No. 3 on the depth chart, was now thrust into the role of starting quarterback. His two preseason appearances, in which he played spectacularly, gave himself, the organization, and the fans confidence.

The Cowboys went 13-3 with Prescott under center, winning the NFC East, locking up the No. 1 seed in the conference, and Prescott earning AP NFL Rookie of the Year honors along the way. Dallas also found its successor to Romo, a problem the fans and media thought the Cowboys should have solved as far back as the 2014 NFL Draft.

"I ended up with Dallas and I'm thankful it all worked out," Prescott said.

The next problem the Cowboys have to work out is how to keep Prescott in Dallas. The club placed the franchise tag on the two-time Pro Bowler, who has yet to sign his tender. If the two sides can't work out a contract extension by July 15, they will have to wait until the end of the season to negotiate a contract extension.

When did you think that the Cowboys had found their quarterback of the future in Dak Prescott? Share your Dak memories with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.

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