Family celebrates Dallas QB’s rise
For The Record
Since April, Bridge City High School teacher and coach Valrie Gilbeaux has gotten an education bigger than Jerry Jones’ ego.
That’s when her nephew Dak Prescott – the son of her late sister Peggy — was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. Now he’s the starting quarterback for America’s Team.
“It’s pretty exciting,” she said. “I think I underestimated how rabid Dallas fans were. But I have a lot of friends who are super Dallas fans and they’re super excited.”
The rookie from Mississippi State was the only first-year player to start at quarterback in the first weekend of the 2016 National Football League season.
Although the Cowboys fell late to the New York Giants and two-time Super Bowl champ QB Eli Manning last Sunday, Prescott had an impressive debut, completing 25 of 45 passes for 227 yards.
And Gilbeaux isn’t the only Orange County resident with a Prescott tie. Gilbeaux’s brother, Dak’s uncle Phillip Ebarb, and Dak’s two brothers, Tad and Jace Prescott, live in Orange.
The quarterback led Mississippi State to a 10-2 regular season and No. 1 national ranking in 2014. The Cowboys made him their fourth-round pick in April’s draft.
“Dak went from being famous in parts of Louisiana and all of Mississippi to world-wide freaking blowup,” Ebarb said. “He was trending on Twitter the night Michael Phelps won his 23rd gold medal.
“I can’t believe I’m telling people my nephew starts for the Dallas Cowboys.”
Tad Prescott can.
“In my mind, Dak was just where he’s supposed to be,” said the eldest of the Prescott brothers, 29. “With Tony Romo in front of him, everybody knew he was just one hit away from playing.”
Romo, Dallas’ oft-injured QB, barely got on the field in his only preseason action before he was lost to injury this summer. Prescott, who was drafted to learn behind Romo and fourth-year backup Kellen Moore, impressed after Moore broke his ankle in training camp and was ready when Romo went down.
He put together the NFL’s best preseason quarterbacking stats, completing 39 of 50 passes for 454 yards without an interception. He passed for five scores and ran for two more.
Against the Giants last week, he led the Cowboys to points on five of their first six possessions. But only one made it into the end zone for a touchdown and that was the difference in the one-point loss.
“We like to win, but he’ll get the next one,” said Gilbeaux, who is assistant coach for Bridge City’s softball and girls’ basketball teams, as well as a cheer coach.
“He gets over it faster than I do.”
Both the Ebarb and Prescott families call Vinton, La., home. Both of the quarterback’s grandmothers still live there. Gilbeaux’s father, Glyn Ebarb, was a longtime teacher and coach in Vinton. Her sister was a single mother when she moved with her three sons to Shreveport, La., then nearby Haughton, La.
That’s where the three boys played high school ball. Tad was a defensive end for the Buccaneers. Jace, a tackle, preceded Dak as a college player but his career at Northwestern State ended with an injury.
Tad says he and Dak are close.
“He’s my baby brother. I called him Mini-Me, then Meat, then Little Meat,” he said. “He been one of my best friends since the time Mom told me she was having him.
“I’ve always had his back and he’s always had me,” he said.
Another thing the family has always had is fishing. Dak’s no stranger to Lake Sabine and monster redfish.
“Fishing is our escape,” Ebarb said. “Nobody is asking if he’s Dak. It’s just us, water and fish. It’s our lifestyle. It’s what we do.”
Another thing they do is travel to watch Dak’s games. Gilbeaux said she’s never missed her nephew’s first game as starting QB at any level, even though it took some strange circumstances.
“We evacuated up there (to Shreveport) after Hurricanes Rita and Ike, so I saw his first game in the seventh grade and his first in the 10th grade.”
She went to see Dak’s first start for Mississippi State in 2013, taking along Peggy when she was fighting the cancer that ultimately claimed her life.
Prescott selected the No. 4 jersey with the Cowboys to honor his mother, whose birthday was on the fourth.
For his pro debut, Gilbeaux started plotting as soon as the Cowboys announced their preseason schedule.
“It was my 25th anniversary, so for my present, (husband) Troy and I went to see him play the Rams in Los Angeles,” she said. “We were the only ones there in No. 4 jerseys.”
“There was a healthy representation of No. 4 jerseys” in Cowboys Stadium for Sunday’s game, she said.
The Cowboys acquired veteran quarterback Mark Sanchez just before the start of the season. There’s talk Romo might be back before midseason.
But Tad Prescott likes his brother’s chances with the Cowboys.
“Every quarterback who has ever played in front of Dak has gone down with an injury, and none of them have gotten their job back,” the QB’s big brother said.
“We’ll have to see where this goes.”