Leading prayer groups — not blocking, tackling, or coaching — is one way Floyd Prescott III is influencing the LSU football team.
“I help the boys grow spiritually,” said Prescott, 43, who spent years leading various LSU players, coaches and support staff in prayer and Bible study before taking on the role of chaplain this year with the support of coach Brian Kelly took over.
Prescott is a 2002 Southern University graduate and senior pastor of the Miracle Place Church of Acadiana in Opelousas. He began ministry at Bethany Church in Baton Rouge.
“Influencing people is for eternity; it’s not just for this life,” he said.
So that’s one of the reasons Prescott isn’t fixated on his title, but on his ministry.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to be called a chaplain because it gives me the opportunity to influence young people,” said Prescott. “I don’t care about the title. …What I care about is the feature, because the title means nothing if you don’t have the feature to support the title. I don’t want to be called just a chaplain. I want to do the work, and I want to do it as for the Lord. And not for my honour, but for his honour.”
Prescott’s volunteer pastoral work includes conducting weekday Bible studies for interested players, leading church services and assisting the team on game days. He is typically involved in the team’s locker room prayer before the game and then the prayer rounds with individual players or position groups who desire a more personal prayer time.
“My thing on game day is that the guys that want prayers gather us in a corner or anywhere on the pitch,” he said. “Some guys have different preferences; certain positions have different times so we’re pretty consistent with some of them.”
Prayer is about more than football, Prescott said.
“Praying together isn’t just about praying for the game; it’s about them being encouraged, staying in the right mindset, being able to look past possible mistakes and being a good teammate,” he said. “We will encourage each other. We will agree as the Bible says.”
Prescott enjoys speaking and teaching about the Bible Study, which was held on Thursdays during the season.
“We’re not trying to target any particular denomination. We’re really just trying to follow the Word,” he said. “Mostly it is a discussion on various topics throughout the week. We cover everything from relationship issues to mental health issues to belief principles for a daily life of obedience to the Lord with different aspects of God’s commandments or expectations for us.”
In reaching out to the student athletes, Prescott works closely with Damon Arnold, the director of player development.
Arnold said he helps students with physical, mental, and emotional aspects, as well as other areas such as community service and career opportunities. Prescott brings a “spiritual component that’s really important to many of our young men as they walk with Christ,” Arnold said.
“Working with him (Prescott) has been great because it’s given us an opportunity to sharpen irons, to really just think about how we can put these young men, the coaches, the staff, in the best possible situation that they’re in feel like they have someone to talk to or a place to go,” Arnold said. “I feel like he’s doing a lot for the team. He’s someone they can talk to.”
Mental health and sanity go hand-in-hand, Prescott said.
“We want to make sure we’re also operating from a place of renewed spirit,” he said. “We’re able to address these things because these things affect a healthy, whole person.”
Prescott was not the chaplain when Kelly took over the program. Former Southern University and NFL standout Ken Ellis has been a pastor for more than 25 years.
With a chaplain position undecided, some players lobbied Kelly for Prescott.
“Dr. Arnold gave us his full support, but the players went to Kelly’s coach on their own,” Prescott said. “When the players approached coach Kelly, he said OK. He is very open to ideas and things that players come to him with and they believe they can improve the team. … He had already seen the Bible study going well, people growing and stuff like that.”
Prescott was not raised in the Church. In 1995 he had a life changing conversion.
“I felt like God was drawing me, so I gave my life to the Lord in high school,” he said. “It was at that point that I started getting involved in the church.”
He realized that his life was not his own.
“I have to die to myself so I can live for him,” he said. “It’s really about making a commitment to Christ, saying yes to God.”
After graduating from Opelousas, Prescott joined the famed Human Jukebox marching band at Southern University and later Bethany Church. He left the Southern Band after two years to focus on ministry.
From 1998 to 2010, he held various roles at Bethany, including small group leader and administrative assistant. In 2001, Prescott began conducting Bible studies with physical education students.
“It gave me an opportunity to grow and equipped me to do what I’m doing today,” Prescott said of his team at Bethany, who works with Rev. Larry Stockstill and others.
In 2010, Prescott started a church in Opelousas and eventually served as pastor of the Miracle Place Church of Acadiana.
As an LSU chaplain, Prescott said he’s able to connect with players like currently standout defenseman BJ Ojulari and others, even long after they’ve left campus.
“I’ve known BJ since he came on campus because he’s always studied the Bible,” Prescott said. “In a case like that, I’m kind of a fan, but to me it’s more than fanship; it’s personal.”
Its goal is an open-door policy.
“One day, when you stop wearing those colors, you’re still a person. You will still be someone I care about whether you have 1,000 years as a running back this year or just drive trucks.”