Dallas Cowboys

Greatness in Cowboys’ Dak Prescott seen early by noted trainer

Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott is one of seven Dallas Cowboys players at the Pro Bowl. The NFC team is coached by Jason Garrett and his staff.
Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott is one of seven Dallas Cowboys players at the Pro Bowl. The NFC team is coached by Jason Garrett and his staff. AP

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott’s surprising rise from fourth-round project to one of the best rookie quarterbacks in NFL history has been well chronicled.

But now it has come full circle.

Despite Prescott’s success in college at Mississippi State, almost no one predicted him taking the NFL by storm as a rookie and being so good so early.

At least no one not named Tom Shaw, the heralded strength and conditioning guru who trained Prescott for the NFL Draft last spring.

It was Shaw who told Walt Disney World sports media director Darrell Fry that Prescott had the makings of something special.

So to see Prescott returning to Orlando for the NFL Pro Bowl, set for Sunday at 7 p.m., and practicing on the same fields that he trained on while a member of the Performance Enhancement Camp at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, has the old coach beaming with pride.

“It feels good,” said Shaw, while taking a break from a workout with new crop of rookies that include Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight, Alabama defensive tackle Jonathan Allen and Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson. “It definitely does.

Prescott, Shaw said, “came out a day early and worked out with [his new pupils]. He talked to them. Eleven months ago, he was here. Now look at him.”

It was a natural thing to do for Prescott, who said he just wanted to hang with the guys, hang with Shaw and share some knowledge.

He plans to return to Disney after the Super Bowl and resume his off-season workouts under Shaw, whom he says demands greatness and helped him get to where he is now.

“Tom is a great guy,” Prescott said. “He demands respect. He demands you to be great. He demands you to be your all. That was the main thing I took from here and the great work he gave me. But this brings back memories. I know all these fields. I did drills on these fields. I worked out here. I know my way around. I will be back this off-season to work out as well.”

The zest to work hard and be great are things about Prescott that stood out most to Shaw and are the reasons he predicted greatness.

“Dak wants to be the best,” Shaw said. “He works hard. He is dedicated. There are a lot of guys that say they want to do something. Everybody wants to be great. But Dak actually put the work in. After workouts, he was not just sitting on his cellphone doing Instagram. He was working, studying, watching tape. That’s when I knew Dak was going to be successful. He does the same thing [New England Patriots quarterback] Tom Brady did. And it’s not the social media.”

How does Shaw know about the four-time Super Bowl champion Brady?

He worked with the then-unknown Brady heading into the 2000 NFL Draft when he was a lowly sixth-round pick by the Patriots. Shaw also won three Super Bowl rings as a member of the Patriots’ strength and conditioning staff for seven years before starting his own workout camps.

Shaw points to the eight-hour days Prescott spent last year working and watching video with former NFL players Ike Taylor, Nick Collins and Tony Collins and former coach Jon Gruden.

“This kid wanted to be the best,” Shaw said. “Dak spent hours and hours with these guys to improve his game. He even made a trip to their house. They live here in Orlando. He would spend three hours with Ike at night. That’s the big thing with Dak. This kid wanted to be the best.”

Prescott has always had confidence in himself. So he will never say he is surprised by what he accomplished as a rookie.

But coming back to Orlando for the Pro Bowl and training at the site where it all began for him last spring has him admittedly humbled and thankful.

He had no idea where he would be drafted, let alone his path to stardom: Going to Dallas, replacing Tony Romo as the starter and breaking a litany of rookie quarterback records while leading the Cowboys to a 13-3 record and then being voted to the Pro Bowl as one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks.

“I have high expectations for myself,” Prescott said. “Just staying focused and believing in yourself. It was hard work. But to be here, is definitely great and humbling.’’

While Prescott will be back to train in a couple of weeks, he hopes it will be his last trip to the Pro Bowl. His goal now is to follow in the footsteps of Shaw’s other prize quarterback pupil Brady and make frequent trips to the Super Bowl, allowing him to skip the Pro Bowl.

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