By Josh Brown
TIPP CITY — Football wasn’t really the first thing on Jakob Prall’s mind when deciding which college to attend.
But some familiar faces sure didn’t hurt.
Prall, the ultimate utility player for the Tippecanoe Red Devils during his high school career, signed his letter of intent to play college football for Brown University on Wednesday, following the path that former teammate Jacob Hall took two seasons ago.
“I visited Brown over the summer to go to a camp, and I knew right away,” Prall said. “All of their facilities and staff were great, but obviously having former teammates go there — I was blown away by all of it. It was just the right fit.
“It’ll be really cool to reunite with him.”
Prall and Hall played together during Prall’s sophomore season, when the Red Devils reached the Division III regional championship game — the farthest the team has ever made it in the playoffs. Prall’s class won four total playoff games — the Devils reached the regional semifinal during his junior and senior years — more than any other class in Tippecanoe history.
But for Prall, even with all of the benefits that playing football at Brown offered, one thing still stood above the rest.
“The biggest part of my decision was education,” he said. “You can’t get a better education anywhere else. It’s one of the best schools in the nation.
“I definitely knew I didn’t want to be out in the country; I wanted to go to school in a bigger city environment. And another big part of it was the football team itself — I spent some time with them, and they’re all great. But getting the best education possible was the biggest thing.”
Brown is an NCAA Division I school in the Ivy League. The Brown Bears went 5-5 the last two seasons and posted winning records five seasons in a row from 2008-2013.
Prall was the Red Devils’ leading rusher last season with 1,155 yards and 15 touchdowns, and he was also their leading receiver with 262 yards and four more touchdowns.
But Prall can do a little of everything with the football. During his junior season, Prall returned three kickoffs and two punts for touchdowns — and that was enough to scare teams away from kicking the ball to him his senior year, though he did still return one punt for a score. And during his junior season, he ran for a touchdown, caught a touchdown pass and threw for a third score — all in the same game. He was named first-team All-Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division both his junior and senior seasons.
And it’s those all-around talents that Brown can take advantage of early on.
“I think for my first year, I’ll probably work my way in on special teams, on returns,” Prall said. “Maybe as I get more familiar with the offense I can work to get some carries. Christian McCaffrey from Stanford did the same kind of thing, and look what he did his sophomore year (set the NCAA record for all-purpose yards in a season, was runner-up in Heisman Trophy race). If you can be that dangerous on returns, you can earn other opportunities.”
Hall isn’t the only Red Devil in recent years to go to Brown before Prall, either. Ellise Sharpe is currently a senior and plays for the Brown Bears’ women’s basketball team.
Prall made his decision before his senior season began, which was a big weight off of his shoulders heading into the year.
“Yes, it helped tremendously,” he said. “To not have to worry about getting highlights together, getting emails or phone calls from coaches, it was a big help. I could just focus on football and my friends and the team.”
Prall has yet to decide on a major, but he has other things to focus on first — he also plays for Tippecanoe’s boys basketball team, which has four games left in its regular season.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.