fb pixel

Log In

Reset Password

Prukop is thinking big

Marcus Mariota let his game do most of the talking at Oregon.

Moments after the Heisman Trophy winner and current Tennessee Titans star watched the 2016 Ducks’ first spring practice on Tuesday, Dakota Prukop made quite a statement about why he decided to transfer into the program.

It certainly wasn’t because the former Montana State quarterback wants to play in the Alamo Bowl.

“I came here because this is a team that expects to win the national championship,” Prukop said. “I’m not out here like, ‘Oh, we’re winning the national championship!’ This is my first practice here. But this is a team that expects to be No. 1. Without that expectation, you can’t be No. 1. You can’t reach a goal you don’t set for yourself.

“That’s one of the reasons I came here, and I’m excited to be here. I’m excited to be in a program that expects success. They know how to achieve success, they’ve been there. They’ve been in the national championship, they’ve been in the Pac-12 championship, they know what steps need to be taken to get there. That’s why I chose this team.”

Prukop, who visited Alabama in December before opting to play his senior year at Oregon, will naturally be compared to Vernon Adams Jr. since both players left the Big Sky to fly with the Ducks in the Pac-12.

Despite arriving late from Eastern Washington and dealing with injuries, Adams completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 2,643 yards with 26 touchdowns and six interceptions during his one-and-done season at Oregon.

The Ducks were unstoppable with a healthy Adams behind center, but ultimately the program began the post-Mariota era 9-4 and ranked 19th in the Associated Press poll with a historic collapse against TCU in the Alamo Bowl.

“I’m very confident in my own ability. At the same time, hat’s off to Vernon Adams,” said Prukop, who has studied all of his predecessors’ game film from last season. “He throws an outstanding deep ball. I would say two years ago when we matched up, Eastern at Montana State, he definitely threw a better deep ball than me then.

“I can’t say he throws a better one than me now. I hope he doesn’t.”

Prukop, who passed for 3,025 yards and 28 touchdowns and ran for 797 yards and 11 touchdowns at Montana State in 2015, will have to officially beat out five other quarterbacks before the Sept. 3 opener against UC Davis.

Jeff Lockie and Taylor Alie played meaningful snaps when Adams was injured. Redshirt freshman Travis Jonsen is healthy after sitting out last season with a foot injury. True freshman Terry Wilson has enrolled early and also went through his first practice at Oregon on Tuesday. Sheldon High star Justin Herbert will join the compeition for fall camp.

“He has a nice arm, he’s accurate and he looks like he’s starting to fit into the offense really well,” senior safety Reggie Daniels said of Prukop. “It’s a great change. We have a lot more competition right now, and the quarterback battle is looking good. They’re all really good players, so you never know who’s going to come out on top.”

Prukop said his best attribute is consistency and he typically makes “high-percentage” throws instead of taking chances. The 6-2, 195-pound senior is getting used to the “hyper-speed” of Oregon’s offense, playing with more elite skill players and developing chemistry with his new teammates.

“Dakota, it was good to kind of break the glass and get things moving,” quarterbacks coach David Yost said. “He threw the ball pretty good, found completions. There were a couple times he came back and knew it right away; ‘I looked this guy the wrong way, or I could have went here.’

“But he was trying to find completions and doing those things.”

By all accounts, Prukop is off to a fast start. That doesn’t mean fourth-year coach Mark Helfrich is going to name a starter anytime soon.

“There’s not a big gap really after day one,” Helfrich said. “The biggest thing is just those guys knowing they have to run the show. … I think their knowledge base is very good, but now you’re doing it with 21 other guys out there and coaches screaming at you and situational awareness. All those things add up quickly.”

Prukop said his goals for the spring are to develop personal relationships with the other players and to have command of the offense entering the summer.

The fall will be time to walk the walk and lead the Ducks back into the College Football Playoff conversation.

“That’s a neat deal, knowing it’s expected to be No. 1. It’s not this far off goal that if the chips fall our way we can get there. It’s an expectation,” Prukop said. “We have the coaches to do it, we have the facilities to do it, we have the training staff, the nutritionists, everything to do it.

“We have the tools. Now it’s up to us to get the job done.”