Coveted FCS QB Dakota Prukop picks Oregon over Alabama
Montana State’s star QB Dakota Prukop, who already graduated this month and will be eligible to transfer and play immediately in 2016, will play for Oregon, he told FOX Sports Tuesday. He earned his degree in economics and hopes to be admitted into a master’s program in time to enroll by the first week of January in Eugene. If not, Prukop should still be admitted early enough to take part in the Ducks’ spring football.
Prukop visited Oregon last weekend and then took a red-eye flight Saturday night from Portland to Alabama — arriving Sunday morning to visit the Crimson Tide before the recruiting dead period began on Sunday night.
“I was blown away how welcoming everyone at Oregon was — the players and the coaches,” Prukop said. "It reminded me of the connections I have with a lot of my teammates at Montana State. They’re so confident in themselves, they’re just relaxed. Being around them, you can tell they’re special athletes. It made me feel like they’re just one piece away from completing the puzzle. I felt like I just fit in with them. The guys on that team, they get it. They have outstanding cast of really competitive guys and even better dudes. I developed a great rapport with Coach [Mark] Helfrich and Coach [Matt] Lubick, and they put their trust in me. They didn’t put any pressure on me. I felt like they understand what makes me tick."
Prukop picked the Ducks over Alabama as well as Michigan and Texas.
"I woke this morning and I said to myself, ‘I’m going to be an Oregon Duck.’ And it just felt really good,” Prukop said. "It was a long process. I was getting pulled in every direction. I spoke to my brother for about 45 minutes. He said, ‘One might get you to the NFL smoother. One, you know the teammates better. One might get you a little better stats. But you’re more excited about Oregon. I think what your gut is telling you is right.’ I slept on it, and he was right.
“I have an unbelievable amount of respect for Coach [Nick] Saban and Coach [Lane] Kiffin. Alabama did a great job in the recruiting process. The other thing that was big for me was when I visited Oregon, Coach Helfrich said: ‘I want you to go to Alabama and see what they have to offer. If going to Alabama is what’s best for you, I want you to go there.’ Oregon’s got a pretty good legacy, but there’s one thing they haven’t done yet [win a national title]. Oregon’s team next year is gonna be unreal. It’s a quarterback’s dream to play with those guys. And I can’t wait to do that."
A native of Austin, Texas, Prukop threw for 3,025 yards, completed 63 percent of his passes and had a 28-10 TD-INT ratio for the Bobcats this season. He also ran for 797 yards and 11 TDs. Against Vernon Adams’ old school, Eastern Washington, Prukop threw for 353 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 196 yards and another score. Adams similarly transferred to Oregon and in 2015 had a passer rating of 179.6 in nine games, with 25 touchdowns and six interceptions.
As FOX Sports detailed last year, Prukop was a late bloomer — about 6-feet-2, 175 pounds coming out of high school. Prukop had toyed with the idea of trying to walk on at Texas Tech or SMU. He had come from a new school that just started up in Austin — Vandegrift — and said it didn’t have any FBS recruiters come by.
He said he went to Texas Tech’s camp and ran a 4.5, but the Red Raiders’ DC eventually stopped talking to him and then got fired. In retrospect, he believes going the FCS route was the right move for him. He didn’t get lost on a crowded roster with scholarship guys, and it afforded him some time to develop. "I was way behind," Prukop said.
Bruce Feldman is a senior college football reporter and columnist for FOXSports.com and FS1. He is also a New York Times best-selling author. His new book, “The QB: The Making of Modern Quarterbacks,” came out in October 2014. Follow him on Twitter @BruceFeldmanCFB and Facebook.