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How Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is “pushing the envelope” as a leader heading into 2019 season

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You can’t teach things like this. Dak Prescott is a natural.

Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Yesterday, we wrote about the fact that Dak Prescott’s college coach Dan Mullen said the Cowboys signal quarterback is the “best I’ve ever seen” at being an alpha dog. Today, ESPN’s Todd Archer wrote a story detailing how Prescott took a group of his offensive teammates to San Diego to run drills and build camaraderie in preparation for the upcoming season.

Archer’s story shines light on what makes Prescott different, and what makes the face of the Dallas Cowboys a unique leader that everybody wants to play for. From paying for a luxurious hotel to taking teammates out to nice dinners to running routes and improving chemistry on and off the field, Prescott did all of that and more prior to the team’s arrival in Oxnard.

If Dak Prescott was going to ask teammates to travel to Del Mar, he was going to do it right. The Cowboys were less than two weeks away from traveling to Oxnard, California, for the start of training camp on July 27, but the quarterback wanted to get in a little bit of work with some teammates before the 2019 season began. The reason for the trip was equal parts football and chemistry, and it showed how Prescott continues to evolve into the leader Dallas knew it was getting when it drafted him in 2016.

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Prescott took care of more than just the hotel. He took care of the players’ transportation and all of their meals in San Diego. He secured Cathedral Catholic High School for workouts. He had people on hand to help stretch his teammates. He had people in place to help with their lifting and running, too.

They each received a pair of Apple AirPods and an Apple Watch, courtesy of the quarterback.

”That’s what leaders do, right?” Prescott said.

Prescott has what many call the “It factor”: a characteristic that makes it easy for others to rally around and follow behind. His background in psychology certainly helps Prescott in building relationships and earning trust.

Building relationships is where Prescott thrives. He studied educational psychology at Mississippi State and worked on his master’s degree in workforce leadership.

”What makes people tick, how to get people going, how to find their purpose,” Prescott said. “Just my interest in how the human mind works, and everybody’s is different.”

The season seemed to turn around once the Dallas Cowboys traded a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft for then-Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper. The Cowboys were coming off of a loss to the Washington Redskins on the road, falling to 3-4 on the year. It was clear that the team needed a spark and that Prescott needed a legitimate target to go to in third down and critical situations.

The Prescott-to-Cooper connection took off in big games, as the duo recorded 397 yards and five touchdowns on 18 Cooper receptions in two wins over the Eagles and Washington, averaging 22.05 yards per grab. The pair are working to make sure their connection grows even more after a full offseason together.

For a few hours, the Cowboys players ran different routes, took a break and then ran some more. For Prescott, the details involved his footwork and building his throwing motion from the ground up to improve his accuracy.

“Me and him connected on every single ball except one,” Cooper said. “Over the course of those two days, it was over a hundred balls. So I’d say that’s pretty consistent.”

Jason Witten will be in the Hall of Fame soon after he retires (for good), but he had an itch that drew him back to the football field. His time in the Monday Night Football booth, though, gave him an opportunity to look at the Cowboys quarterback through a different lens.

Witten even said that Prescott fits the mold of “every great player I’ve been around”.

Witten’s year away with ESPN’s Monday Night Football gave him a different perspective on Prescott.

”A lot of quarterbacks [hold workouts], but I think he’s just so purposeful. It’s, ‘We’re going to get better,’” Witten said. “It wasn’t just we’re running routes, but we’re working through our ‘fastball,’ terms, we’re doing hurry-up, on-the-ball and we’re going down the field. He’s always had the intangibles of leadership, just constantly trying to become better, you know? He pushes that envelope of what that looks like. Every great player I’ve been around, they seem like their expectations are so much higher than what anybody else can put on them. He fits in that mold.”

Witten says it’s easy to see that Prescott has a purpose for his workouts and his training. Prescott explained why he believes camaraderie off the field plays a role in the chemistry on the field.

Said Prescott: “The training is one thing. You know you’re going out there, spending a few hours training, hammering it, talking about how I want you here on this route or what I’m thinking on this route and vice versa. But when you leave there, play a couple rounds of golf, you have dinner, those type of things, those conversations. The tight ends getting to know the receivers better. Me getting to know them better. All that pays off in the end when it comes to crunch time in a game. You can look at a guy and you know you put in time, that camaraderie and you create a relationship that it’s easy at that point.”

Tight end Blake Jarwin added that watching Dak workout and watch film makes others on the team want to get better, which is a very good sign for a team that has a lot of youth and is looking to take the next step.

“It’s the way he works in general,” Jarwin said. “If you watch him in the weight room or watch him in the film room and especially during practice, he’s always working to get better. That’s something we can all look to and learn from.”

Prescott has the full support of his teammates. Whether it is from social media posts or on the gridiron, that much is very clear. The Cowboys are all-in on their franchise quarterback, thanks in large part to his leadership skills.

Check out the full article, it’s worth a read.