All 20 finalists’ eyes immediately snapped to attention the second Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott appeared on screen.
On behalf of the Jordan brand partnering with the Opening, Prescott made himself available for a Q&A session virtually from his home in Texas:
Elite 11 host Yogi Roth moderated a conversation that toggled through leadership, marketing, and mental health.
Pressure’s a Privilege
Prescott spent the shortest amount of time answering questions about how young quarterbacks should approach marketing opportunities and endorsement deals in light of the latest news surrounding name, image, and likeness.
The 27-year-old signal-caller told the finalists to focus on keeping the main thing the main thing, which is winning and maximizing their football potential.
According to Prescott, brands that partner with him like Jordan want nothing to do with athletes who aren’t either high-level performers or a part of teams considered Super Bowl contenders.
One finalist asked Prescott about how he handles being the face of “America’s Team.”
“Pressure’s a privilege,” Prescott said.
In other words, Prescott wanted every athlete listening to know it’s important for others to have high expectations of the quarterback because it means they have faith in that individual.
Vulnerability and Transparency
When the conversation shifted onto mental health, it’s important to explain why the Elite 11 asked Prescott to share his opinions.
Besides being the biggest star of the most valuable sports franchise in the world, Prescott has lost his mother to cancer, and more recently, his brother to suicide.
Prescott acknowledged to Graham Bensinger that in the wake of his brother’s death he struggled through bouts of anxiety and depression:
The Cowboys’ QB told all the finalists that as a leader it’s not shameful nor unbecoming to be transparent and vulnerable.
“I’ve never let the opinions of others get in my head to tell me who I am,” Prescott said.
Among all the advice Prescott disseminated to the finalists, I found it interesting that he explained in-depth who his inner circle is and their effect on him.
“Your friends are everything,” Prescott said. “You are the company you keep.”
His closest friends include a handful of teammates from his high school in Haughton, Louisiana, and Mississippi State. Backup QBs, pass-catchers, and even a kicker because Prescott served as the holder.
Only 3 of the 20 finalists in this small meeting room at a Marriott hotel in southern California asked Prescott questions.
A coach I spoke to afterward wondered if the athletes had been allowed to submit a question via Zoom chat if there would’ve been 100 percent participation.
Once Prescott left, Yogi Roth went around the room asking all the finalists to share one takeaway.
Alabama commit Ty Simpson said Prescott emphasized successful quarterbacks need to be grinders, which feels apropos because the guys I spoke to on the coaching staff describe Simpson as a “fighter” who competes all out.
Roth also encouraged everyone to dip their toe into sports psychology.
Only one athlete raised his hand when Roth asked if they would use a sports psychologist: University of Southern California commit Devin Brown.
The Arizona native will be playing his final high school season in Utah at Corner Canyon High School for personal reasons.
At one point in his career, Brown struggled with a fear of failure. A sports psychologist helped give him tools to restore his confidence.
Brown carried himself at the finals with a sense of urgency very few of the other athletes replicated. Whether it’s confidence or flair, the guys I spoke to described him throughout the week as “electric.”