Adam Prentice grew up in sports restaurants, watching football on the sea of TV screens inside them and admiring the walls covered in sports memorabilia.
There was no particular restaurant Prentice fancied. He just thought it was cool to see the jerseys of local athletes whenever his family went out to eat.
It was so cool to Prentice, in fact, that he dreamed of having his NFL jersey framed, signed, and displayed inside a sports restaurant like those he grew up in.
Prentice never lacked confidence in himself to achieve those dreams, not at an early age and especially not in high school. His former head coach Rich Hammond remembered one moment from his freshman year at Clovis High.
Gary Prentice, Adam’s father, told Hammond to take Adam out of the game. Something did not look right about Adam. He was obviously injured, but the steely-nerved freshman did not budge.
“I went over and told the coach to take Prentice out, because we were just getting to know each other at that point,” Hammond recalled. “He came over, and sure enough, he had a broken collarbone and played four or five plays.
“Gary told me that wasn’t the first time that happened. The time before, he played the whole game with it broken.”
Prentice made plenty more memories over the rest of his high school career; he said his favorite play was scoring the game-winning touchdown against Clovis North in the 2014 Central Section quarterfinals.
Football has taken Prentice to more places than the end zone, though.
Football took Prentice to the parks of Clovis, where he used to play football with his dad and brother Anthony, rain or shine. The game led him from the storied Friday Night Lights of Lamonica Stadium, to a walk-on opportunity and eventual scholarship and captaincy at Colorado State, followed by a cross-country trip to South Carolina for one year.
Within the last 12 months, Prentice has gone undrafted, signed by the Denver Broncos, released at the end of preseason, and quickly picked up by the New Orleans Saints. If there were frequent-flyer points for young football careers, then Prentice would be already cashing in.
“It’s been special to see where a childhood game has been able to take me,” Prentice said.
The journey reached a massive milestone inside the deafening Caesars Superdome on Thanksgiving Day, when Prentice made his NFL debut and caught his first career pass. It came at the two-minute warning of the first half, a dump-off pass to the sturdy fullback on 3rd & 18.
As Prentice rumbled for a 10-yard gain on the catch and run, he felt the weight of his hometown on him. He remembered the youth of Fresno and Clovis any time he hit the field for New Orleans.
“I’m living out every kid’s dream,” Prentice said. “There’s only a select few that get to live those dreams. I’m playing for a lot of my buddies, a lot of the kids that don’t have this opportunity, and I’m giving those young kids hope that somebody from Fresno and Clovis can go to the NFL.”
After closing out the 2021 NFL season with the Saints, Prentice got busy fulfilling another dream of his.
The white New Orleans Saints No. 46 jersey will be framed and hung inside the Field House restaurant, which sits on the northeast corner of Copper and Maple Ave, down the street from one of the parks Prentice enjoyed as a kid.
Prentice signed his name inside the golden numbers on February 9, adding his jersey to a collection that includes former local standouts Jordan Luplow, Josh Allen, and Adrian Martinez.
The latest addition will be placed on the wall above another Clovis High alum, quarterback Daryle Lamonica. It is a fitting spot for Prentice, the ninth former Cougar to play NFL football.
Just like how Field House, the type of sports restaurant Prentice loved as a kid, is the perfect spot in Prentice’s mind to be honored.
“To be able to say my jersey is up here at the Field House,” Prentice said, “is a dream come true.”