Athlete profile: Dakota Prukop

As the curtain fell on the DeNarius McGhee era, two questions permeated the Bobcat football landscape: First, who would replace the record breaking four-year starter, and second, could they come close to replicating the success of that four year period? Following a 59-56 road win at Sacramento State, accounting for every touchdown either throwing or running in a game that culminated with a game-winning touchdown with four seconds left, early returns would indicate that the newly minted quarterback Dakota Prukop could very well reach that level, if not surpass it.

Prukop, the oldest of four, was originally considered to be a prospect at defensive back. While attending Vandegrift High School in Austin, Texas, Prukop fielded offers from prestigious universities at the defensive position. “My junior year I was looking at Texas Tech, SMU, West Point, Rice . . . I didn’t really do anything quarterback-wise recruiting until my senior year.” The reason for the change: “I decided I would have a better chance in my career overall as a quarterback at the collegiate level. I didn’t want to depend on someone else at quarterback [and] I just really enjoyed the idea of taking matters into your own hands.”

After switching focus to the quarterback position, Prukop received interest from FCS schools in the Texas area, notably from the Southland Conference. However, a little help from family gave Prukop the inclination to look northward. “I talked to my uncle who knew a little bit about Montana State and said that it was worth checking out . . . I decided after talking to Coach Ash to come up for a visit and it was sort of a done deal from there.” It certainly helped that Montana State had Texas players already on the roster. “That was another big factor . . . one of the things kind of made it okay was how many other Texas guys were already here so I felt like if they can do it, I can do it.”

After making his decision, Prukop went about improving his physical build and ability to read defenses. “Coach Alex Wilcox, he’s made me bigger, faster, stronger. He’s made everyone on this team like that. From the offensive side [and] reading defenses, coach Tim Cramsey really changed how I looked at the game.”

Now as starting quarterback, his free time has certainly taken a hit. “I have a lot less time, but if you really break it down, you waste quite a bit of time in the day just doing stuff on your phone. So it’s not too overwhelming. I just have to stay disciplined and keep up in my studies.”

While football takes up the majority of his time, Prukop still takes advantage of the outdoor possibilities offered here in Bozeman. “In Texas during the summer it’s so hot you don’t like to go camping as much, but up here it’s just perfect.” His activity of choice: “Fly fishing. I do like to fly fish quite a bit.”

Along with his friends, he has a special traveler who accompanies them on their trips. “I have a Siberian husky, her name is Shiloh and she goes with us everywhere.” When asked what relaxes him on a rough day, he smiled and said, “That’s what I’ve got my dog for. No matter how good or bad your day is, you show up at home and my dog is just ecstatic.”

Still, Prukop never forgets his roots. His biggest role model is his father, a former assistant coach at Arizona State and University of Southern California. “He was a big time influence in my life and in my sports career . . . he and my mom try to get up here as much as money allows.”

In spite of the distance, Prukop feels as though he’s found a home here in The Last Best Place. “I think we’ve got the best fans in the nation. I’ve been to a lot of games . . . and I’ve been to even bigger stadiums than [Bobcat Stadium], but I’ve never seen fans so passionate about our football. I’m very blessed to be able to play here in front of these fans and at this school.”