With all the debate of G.O.A.T’s in the NBA right now, it only seems right that we debate who the greatest Dawg to ever set foot on the gridiron is. At Mississippi State, it might seem like we just recently watched him play back in 2014, but is Dak Prescott the greatest player in our history? I think it possible, but there is a strong case for several other players:
One of the most dominant defensive lineman in SEC history just so happened to be a Dawg. Fletcher Cox was named to a First-Team All-SEC and All-American teams after he totaled 114 total tackles, 24.5 for loss, and 7.5 sacks in his 3 year career. After being selected 12th overall by the Eagles in 2012, he has been a force in the NFL. He has been highly successful in the NFL, where he won a Super Bowl, was named All-Pro three times, and was named to the Pro Bowl three times as well. In his prime and only 27, the case for Fletcher Cox will continue to grow.
One of my personal all-time favorite players, Anthony ‘Boobie’ Dixon, burst on the scene in Year 1 of his career. He is one of 7 running backs in SEC History to lead his team in rushing all 4 years of their career. He still remains the all-time leader in rushing touchdowns and yards, a record that is turning 10 years old next year. Amassing 3,994 yards rushing, his record looks safe for some time to come. He scored a touchdown in the 2013 NFC Championship game, and was highly successful on special teams. Entertaining on and off the field, and one of the best players in SEC Rushing history, a case is strong for Mr. Dixon.
One of the more underrated and unusual choices to make this list is Kent Hull. Hull was one of the greatest lineman in SEC history, who also went on to be a great NFL lineman. He was the literal centerpiece to one of the greatest runs in NFL History. Playing center for the Bills, he not only snapped the ball to the great Jim Kelly, he went and started in a Super Bowl an unprecedented 4 times. Following his death in 2011, he now has an award is named after him, the Kent Hull trophy, going out to the best lineman every year in the state of Mississippi. While he might not be as flashy as skill position players, he played one of the most vital positions in the game. He also just so happened to be one of the best to ever do it in Maroon and White.
I do not know if there ever was a player like Fred Smoot in our program history. He was everything you ask for in a DB. He was loud, boisterous, and extremely talented. Starting and playing full time his junior and senior season, he was named First Team All-SEC and All-American. He had 10 interceptions in his career, and had a knack for the ball. After being selected in the second round by the Redskins, he was quick to declare himself the steal of the draft. His NFL career was surrounded by controversy, but he still had an impressive stat line. He finished with 450 tackles, 5 forced fumbles, and 21 interceptions.
If there is any player who has had more success in college and the NFL, D.D is that guy. His list of achievements is truly amazing, ranging from College Football Hall of Fame to Super Bowl Champion. One of the most decorated players to come through Mississippi State was not only one of the best in SEC History, but is one of the greatest linebackers in Dallas Cowboy history. He started 135 consecutive game, which is 3rd in team history. He is one of 8 players in NFL history to play in 5 different Super Bowls, and is still the record holder for most playoff games in program history with 27. He was named the ‘Most Popular Player’ by Cowboys in 1981, and won the Bart Starr Award in 1981. While he played before most of our memories began, it does not take away from the great player he was.
To write about Darius Slay on the list of potential all-time great players is one crazy experience. Arguably, he might not have been considered the best corner on the team when he played. Johnthan Banks, who played during the same time span, won the Jim Thorpe award. That arguably could make him an all-time great, but Banks never did much in the NFL. Slay on the other hand, went to the NFL and became ‘Big Play Slay’. His name says it all, as has slayed the NFL, being named First Team All-Pro, leading the league in interceptions , and being named to a Pro Bowl. He was ranked the 6th best corner in the game this year, and continues to grow as a player every year. Like Fletcher Cox, he is still young and in his prime, and can continue to add to his impressive resume.
Last, but certainly not least, the great Dak Prescott. He led us to #1 in the country, and he kept us there for sometime. He had epic plays, epic wins, and an epic heart. He made us all cheer, smile, and even cry. He leads Mississippi State in every single passing category possible. He is 7th in yards rushed and 2nd in rushing touchdowns, as a quarterback. He is 3rd in SEC history in total yards. The numbers, the memories, and the winning cannot be denied. After being drafted by the Cowboys, he became starter as a rookie and won Rookie of the Year. In two seasons, he has 7,000 yards passing and 700 rushing, with a 45-17 touchdown to interception ratio. He was ranked 14th overall player in the NFL in 2017. At 24, Dak Prescott easily can run away with any debate, as he has a long career in front of him. Being young and talented, hard working and charismatic, and a favorite by all he knows, the future is bright for #15.
Through all the great players who have come through Starkville, there is a strong argument for a number of players, mentioned above or not. To me, D.D Lewis was a player who achieved the most as a player in the NFL, but do we judge a player based on college success or NFL? I believe the greatest players had a phenomenal career throughout its entirety. The player who played the most complicated positon, who has won consistently, and captured our attention the most… is Dak Prescott. He has the most left in his young career, and has already done so much for our program and the NFL. He can do it with his arms, his legs, and his heart. The G.O.A.T’s in our game are never one dimensional, and Dak Prescott is dually talented.