Wildcats Return To Action

After a two-week layoff for finals and spring break, the Northwestern Wildcats returned to the Nicolet Center for practice. This was also the first time which former USC receiver Kyle Prater has practiced with the team. Go inside with this PurpleWildcats.com practice report.

• Former five-star wide receiver Kyle Prater joined his Northwestern teammates for the first time. How did he do? "I think he looked like a guy who hasn't played football in a while," said Pat Fitzgerald. He added, "I think it's going to be a long journey. There's so much on his plate."

• Prater was limited in his first practice, as he learned the offense. "He just hasn't been here as long as everyone else," said Fitzgerald, who also praised Prater's attitude.

Prater was wearing his familiar No. 21 in practice. The 6-foot-5 wideout stood high above most of his teammates.

• Fitzgerald said that Prater is feeling healthy, and is mainly limited due to the adjustment process. He also said there is no word on Prater's NCAA waiver petition.

The Wildcats were inside on the cold day. The team practiced for two hours, wearing upper shells and shorts.

• Fitzgerald did not select an individual for the spring break "Sun Tan Award" this year. He joked, "We had some MVPs of spring break, already."

Kain Colter continues to serve as the first-team quarterback. Neal Deiters and Chuck Porcelli continue to work as first-team right guard and right tackle. Fitzgerald said with a smile, "I wouldn't evaluate who's with the ones and twos right now."

• One player who has impressed with the ones is redshirt freshman linebacker Drew Smith. Fitzgerald credited Smith's high school coaches for his development. "He's got a heck of an attitude," said Fitzgerald of Smith.

• Much of Monday's practice was about getting back to the basics. The running backs, receivers, and tight ends spent time working on blocking drills. The defensive players practiced basic footwork.

• When the team scrimmage drill began with Kain Colter connecting a long pass to Tony Jones, now at full health and donning the No. 6 on his jersey.

•Defensive end Tyler Scott suggested that communication is better within the defense. That, of course, was a problem through much of the 2011 season.

• At the end of practice, Fitzgerald called Prater to the team's huddle and put him through a tradition for new Wildcats. Prater was forced to introduce himself to his teammates in a very specific order, as mandated by the head coach. "(Prater) did a good job, three tries isn't bad," Fitzgerald joked.

• The Wildcats return to the practice field on Tuesday morning for another workout. PurpleWildcats.com will provide a practice report and post-practice video.

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college football, college basketball and college baseball for Fox Sports & Scout.com since 2009. He served as a writer for Big Red Report, covering Nebraska athletics, and is now the Publisher of PurpleWildcats.com, covering the Northwestern Wildcats.
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