Dak Prescott had simple advice for 9-year-old Raymond “Ray Ray” Melgarejo.
“Have confidence and just throw the ball,” Prescott told him.
Melgarejo heeded that advice after the Dallas Cowboys’ minicamp practice on Wednesday, winning the friendly target competition Prescott and coach Jason Garrett go through after every practice.
“He’s got a nice arm. May have a chance at this,” Prescott said, smiling. “Just enjoyed being around their presence and I hope they feel the same way.”
Yes, Prescott made the day for Melgarejo and his family. They were on hand at The Star as part of a Make-A-Wish Foundation experience that included Melgarejo doing everything from riding in Jerry Jones’ helicopter to handing the ball off to running back Ezekiel Elliott during drills.
Melgarejo, who is from Santa Ana, Calif., had a tumor removed from the back of his head that he discovered while putting on a football helmet.
“Football saved his life,” said Jose Melgarejo, Ray Ray’s uncle. “This is life-changing. For the Cowboys to allow this to happen, it’s something he’ll never forget.”
Prescott seemed to enjoy it just as much. It served as another reminder of his stardom that is growing by the minute. Earlier in the day, news came out that Prescott had landed another endorsement deal, this time with New Era cap.
For Prescott, the fame and adulation is welcomed. He called it “a blessing” to have the platform that comes with being the quarterback of America’s Team. But he also understands the reason behind it.
“It’s because of my ability on the football field. So, obviously, that comes first,” Prescott said. “I want to be as great a player as I can be. That’s my main focus. The other things come with it as they fit in.”
Prescott hasn’t let the fame get to him and is still putting in countless hours to ensure his second year is better than his first. He had one of the greatest rookie seasons by a quarterback in NFL history, passing for 3,667 yards with 23 touchdowns, four interceptions and a 104.9 passer rating.
It remains to be seen how much better Prescott can perform going forward. But everyone within the organization seems to think he hasn’t reached his ceiling yet, especially with the reigns fully being handed to him from Tony Romo.
Backup quarterback Kellen Moore believes it’s only going to get better for Prescott with a year under his belt and more reps coming throughout the off-season and training camp.
“He’s had an awesome off-season,” Moore said. “From Day 1 to be the guy, be the face of the offense, the leader, the voice, everything has been tailored towards him from the start. I think that’s huge for him, our offense and everyone here.”
Prescott intends to continue laying the foundation for the 2017 team, too. He and the receiving corps are already planning to work together before training camp.
Where? That’s to be determined.
But, as Prescott said, “I don’t care if it’s we’re out in [Los Angeles] and we accidentally run into each other, we’ll probably get some work in that next day or something. It’s just communicating and knowing where we’re at and to get a time together where we’re all there.”
Outside of that, Prescott intends to take some time off between minicamp and training camp, but didn’t have anything overly exciting planned. At least nothing he cared to share with reporters.
“I’ll take some time off,” Prescott said. “But it’s also just staying focused in the playbook, keeping my feet firing, keep my arm going throughout this break.”
And Prescott might even use the same advice he gave Melgarejo. Particularly the “have confidence” part.
“I think it’s one of the most underrated things in a player’s abilities,” Prescott said. “Everybody has the capability of doing it if you’re at this level. It’s about having confidence in yourself, the guys around you, to make sure you believe in yourself to get it done.”