Tackling the Dream: Locals Make It Big in the NFL
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
619 of 949 passing for 6,991 yards | 45 touchdowns | 17 interceptions
When you are the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, the expectations are high. People you don’t even know are going to love you or hate you, all because of the blue star on the side of your silver helmet.
Haughton’s Dak Prescott is entering his third season as the Cowboys quarterback. Prescott’s high school football coach, Rodney Guin, said he knew back in high school that Prescott was up to the challenge.
“He always had the desire to excel at whatever he did,” Guin said. “It didn’t matter what sport it was, what class it was, or anything. Whatever he was doing, he wanted to be the best.”
Guin coached Prescott at Haughton High School, where Prescott also played basketball. Guin currently is the head football coach and athletic director at Calvary Baptist Academy. He and Prescott have remained close through the years. Guin said he knew what to do when Prescott began to see the NFL as a real possibility.
“Like a lot of kids, when he began to see the possibilities, I pushed him even harder,” Guin said. “When he saw that the NFL was a possibility, he was all in at that point to try to get to that level.”
From Haughton, Prescott went to Mississippi State to play in college football. Guin said that was a key step in building on the foundation Prescott formed in high school.
“His knowledge of the game got so much better,” he said. “He was fortunate to play for Coach (Dan) Mullens, who is one of the best quarterback coaches. Dak just fed off of that. Even when he wasn’t starting he stored all that up because he knew he would need it someday.”
Prescott completed his college career 734-of-1,169 passing with 9,376 yards and 70 touchdowns. He also rushed for 2,521 yards and 41 touchdowns. He finished third in the SEC in total yards and fourth in touchdowns.
Guin was with Prescott and his family when the Cowboys drafted Prescott. Guin said the entire Prescott family is Dallas fans, and it was special to be with Prescott’s grandmother and other family members as they celebrated that moment. But that was just the beginning, Guin said.
“From the time he got drafted, he prepared himself to play for the Cowboys,” he said. “I’m sure he was prepared and ready when the moment came.”
In two seasons as the Cowboys’s quarterback, Prescott is 619-of-949 passing for 6,991 yards with 45 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He also has 114 carries for 639 yards and 12 touchdowns. Guin noted one key trait in Prescott that drives him to improve.
“He’s highly critical of himself, which is important if you want to get better,” Guin said. “You have to be able to take that criticism and turn it around and make yourself better. It made him work even harder.”
Guin stays in contact with Prescott, even though “he’s busy and I’m busy.” In fact, Guin said Prescott stays in touch with all his Haughton High coaches. He said it’s exciting for Haughton and for Shreveport-Bossier City to see players like Prescott rise from the high school ranks all the way to the NFL.
“It’s just fun to see a kid that has worked from nothing to being quarterback for the Cowboys,” Guin said. “He’s humble. He hasn’t forgotten where he came from. That’s the most special thing about him. A lot of guys change, but he hasn’t.”
In Prescott’s rookie season, another Shreveport-Bossier City area alumnus was on the Cowboys’ roster – Fair Park’s Morris Claiborne. Claiborne said he enjoyed being Prescott’s teammate after being opponents in high school.
“It was amazing, just to see him grow into the person he is today, on and off the field,” Claiborne said. “I remember playing him in high school. We used to joke about this one game when we played them in the playoffs in the first round. We lost that game, but we know we should have won it. He’ll know what I’m talking about if he reads this. We always joke about it and have fun with it. But it’s great to see the person and the quarterback he has become.”
Morris Claiborne, New York Jets
200 tackles | 6 interceptions
Claiborne is entering his second season with the New York Jets after five years in Dallas. He signed a one-year deal for $7 million. He has 194 tackles and five interceptions in his NFL career.
In his high school career at Fair Park, Claiborne played quarterback, defensive back and wide receiver. In his senior year as quarterback, he passed for 1,009 yards and 14 touchdowns while rushing for 1,023 yards and 16 touchdowns. Claiborne was a three-time All-District receiver and defensive back. He also played baseball and basketball and ran track, winning the 4A state title in the 100 meters with a time of 10.76 in 2009. The Shreveport Times named him Shreveport-Bossier Athlete of the Year in his sophomore year.
Claiborne said playing in the NFL was a dream he knew would come true when he was a senior in high school.
“I was getting good offers from colleges,” he said. “It was like everything I was working for was coming true. I was just going step by step to be the best I could be.”
Claiborne accepted a scholarship from Louisiana State University. As a Tiger, he had 95 total tackles, 11 interceptions for 274 yards and 19 kickoff returns with 26.3 yards per return average.
The former LSU Tiger was the No. 6 pick overall in the 2012 NFL Draft by the Cowboys. He said his whole family was Dallas fans, but he rooted for the Philadelphia Eagles, because “I went against everyone else.” He remembers his father wore a Dallas Cowboys T-shirt under his suit during the draft. But that’s not all he remembers about being selected.
“I can remember sitting back in the green room, nervous as a I can be. I tried to calm my nerves any way I could. No matter what, I was going to be able to live my dream and play in the NFL. The Cowboys made some trades and came and got me. Those were some of the most exciting days of my life. The changes in my life came so fast. God truly blessed me to put that work in and reap the rewards in the end.”
Claiborne said he still looks fondly upon his time in Dallas.
“It was awesome,” he said. “I cherish a lot of moments from that time. Being drafted was dream come true. I appreciate Jerry (Jones) for giving me the opportunity.”
Claiborne has family and several friends who still live in Shreveport. He said those relationships are important to him because they keep him grounded.
“I still have friends in my life I went to high school with, and I love them to death,” he said. “My family is still in Shreveport. They all have been with me since day one. I still have the type of friends who let me know what’s real and what’s reality. I love reality.”
Claiborne said that for him, the game didn’t change that much as he progressed from high school to college and to the NFL. It was the competition that changed.
“The game doesn’t really change that much,” he said. “The competition gets better. The game gets faster, everything kind of speeds up on you. But you cannot worry about the game. It’s all in your head. As players, we get in our heads a lot.”
Claiborne said the transition from Dallas to New York last season was pretty easy. He credits the Jets players and coaching staff with making that transition smooth for him by making him feel comfortable from the start. Claiborne chose a one-year deal as a way of “betting on himself” this season.
“I’ve got one chance to prove my worth,” he said. “Any day of the week, I would bet on myself this way.”
Claiborne has some advice for young people pursuing a career in the NFL or any other big goal: Keep on dreaming.
“When I was young, I was just dreaming,” he said. “I didn’t exactly know what it takes. But I had a dream. I had a vision. I knew what I wanted, and I wasn’t going to let anyone tell me I couldn’t do it. I had so much help from my mom and dad and coaches like Ken Prude. You need help along the way to success. I didn’t want to let those folks down.”
Bennie Logan, Tennessee Titans
217 tackles | 7 sacks | 3 forced fumbles
Bennie Logan is in his sixth season in the NFL. Before joining the Tennessee Titans this year, the defensive tackle played last year with the Kansas City Chiefs and four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Red River High School graduate and former LSU standout has a total of 215 tackles, seven sacks and three forced fumbles in his career.
But the third-round draft pick wasn’t dreaming of the NFL back in his high school days.
“I tell people all the time, this was never a dream for me growing up,” Logan said. “I wanted to be a firefighter or a police officer.”
Even at LSU, Logan said he was more focused on completing his degree program.
“When I was in college, I was focused on college,” he said. “I was focused on being at LSU and getting my degree. I wasn’t even thinking about the NFL. It wasn’t until I saw Michael Brockers and other guys around me getting drafted that I thought I could really make a career out of the NFL.”
However, waiting until the third round to hear his name called wasn’t fun.
“It was nerve-wracking,” he said. “There are so many unknowns. You don’t know where you’re going, or what round you’re going in. You hear a lot of things going into the draft. The first day of the draft I was waiting around. Then I saw the second round go by. I texted my agent, and he was talking with the Browns while the Eagles were on the phone with me.”
Logan said his rookie year was fun. Entering his sixth season with his third team, Logan tries to have the same attitude regardless of what’s going on.
“I play with that edge, that chip on my shoulder from being the underdog,” Logan said. “Regardless of what people say, it’s all about your resume. The film you put out there in practice, that’s your resume. I always put my best foot first. I make the best of each day. Each year is an opportunity for me to go out and have fun and give it my all.”
Logan said he enjoys seeing the other NFL players from north Louisiana, whether it’s at a football camp for kids or on the field as competitors.
“Morris has his camp, and I always meet up with him,” Logan said. “Jacob Hester (retired NFL player) has his camp, too. I always see a lot of guys. When we play against each other, I always talk with them and swap jerseys. It’s great to say, ‘this guy’s from north Louisiana.’ The jerseys are great to have as a trophy in your mancave in your house. These guys are small town, and they made it in the NFL. I use it as motivation for the kiddos, too.”
Kentrell Brice, Green Bay Packers
58 tackles | 1 interception
Ruston native and Louisiana Tech alum Kentrell Brice is in his third season at defensive back for the Green Bay Packers. He has 49 tackles and one interception in his three years in Green Bay.
Brice was a three-sport athlete at Ruston High, lettering in football, track and field and basketball. In his high school football career, he registered 104 solo tackles, 55 assisted tackles, nine tackles for a loss, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 31 pass break-ups, six interceptions, eight blocked field goals, one interception returned 96 yards for a touchdown and two kickoff returns for a score his senior year as he led Ruston to the third round of the playoffs.
In 2015, his last year at LA Tech, he started 13 games and recorded 60 total tackles. He also had one interception returned for 11 yards, eight pass breakups and one fumble recovery.
Brice took the non-traditional path to the NFL as an undrafted free agent. He said he never lost sight of his dream
“I continued to keep faith in God,” Brice said. “I knew there was not too much buzz around me coming out of college. I knew other guys at school had the hype, and they were great players. They brought a lot of scouts. I focused on my work. I was able to impress Green Bay. They gave me a call the next day and scheduled a private workout. I felt like Green Bay was only team to show interest.
“When it came down to not hearing my name called in the draft, I was disappointed. Green Bay said they wanted to draft me but went in another direction. I went ahead and came to Green Bay. They had the most interest in me. Being undrafted was an opportunity, and that’s all I ever asked for. I continue to play at a high level. God blessed me to play at a high level. I try not to look back. I don’t think about the undrafted tag any more. It still has a sour taste. But it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.”
Brice takes that attitude onto the field for every game. “I remember the solid games that I have had,” he said. “Like the first Dallas game in the playoffs my rookie year. I played at a high level. No one worried about the safety position that day or my first game against Jacksonville. They were on our side of the 50 and they were trying to score. Coach threw me into the game and expected me to do my job. I finished and played at a high level. It was crunch time, with the game on the line. I give credit to coach for giving me the opportunity.”
Brice said making an NFL team’s roster was a dream come true. “I always loved football as a child,” he said. “I always wanted to play in the NFL. As I got older, the dream became more attainable. I knew I had to hone in, focus and work hard. I had all the talent; I just had to focus on my technique and keys.”
Brice chose to stay in Ruston after high school and play for LA Tech. While he acknowledges that he might have missed out on some of the “college experience” by staying in his hometown, he said it helped keep him grounded.
“I feel like it helped me because it was a smooth transition,” he explained. “I still had all my friends from high school. All my loved ones came to every home game. I didn’t have the normal college experience. It really made me remain the same.”
Brice said he always looks forward to improving himself as a football player.
“Once I got here and was able to see everyone and compete with everyone, I realized I could compete at this level,” Brice said. “That allowed me to gain confidence. I realized this stage is not too big for me, no matter that I was undrafted. The sky’s the limit. I can take that. I want to continue to compete. I compete with myself on a daily basis.”
Brice had this advice for young athletes about pursuing their dreams: “Listen to your parents. Stay out of trouble. Focus on your grades. If you don’t have the grades, you can’t get into college. You have to have priorities in order. Listen to your parents. They won’t lead you wrong.”
Tre’Davious White, Buffalo Bills
73 tackles | 4 interceptions | 1 forced fumble
Cornerback Tre’Davious White is a graduate of Green Oaks High School and was a consensus All-American at LSU. He finished his rookie season with the Buffalo Bills with 69 tackles, one forced fumble and four interceptions.
White was highly recruited out of high school — a five-star recruit and the second-ranked cornerback by 247Sports. He was named a U.S. Army All-American in his senior year. He also played quarterback at Green Oaks, passing for 593 yards and rushing for 306 yards while accounting for 11 touchdowns during his senior season in 2012.
At LSU, White was one of the top cornerbacks in school history and a four-year starter in the secondary. During his LSU career, he recorded 167 tackles, 11.0 tackles for loss, 34 pass breakups and six interceptions. The 34 pass breakups ties for No. 5 in LSU history. He also returned 68 punts for 679 yards and a touchdown. White scored a total of four touchdowns during his career (3 punt returns, 1 interception return). He wore the coveted No. 18 jersey for both his junior and senior years.