Prater hopes to be a playmaker

Throughout his entire football career, Kyle Prater has faced high expectations. However, various injuries have slowed the talented wide receiver and buried him on USC's depth chart. Now a Northwestern Wildcat, Prater hopes to reach his high potential.

Kyle Prater has dealt with high expectations throughout his entire football career.

Coming out of high school, Prater was touted as one of the top prospects in the country. When he entered USC as a freshman, Trojan fans tabbed him as a star in the making. Upon becoming a Wildcat after his transfer, Northwestern fans anointed him as a rock star.

Prater is no stranger to hype by now, and doesn't feel it's pressure put on his shoulders.

"Expectations that people set for me, I really don't look at that," Prater said. "I really just set the expectations for myself and my family. That's all that I need, is my family."

While Prater isn't concerned with what fans are saying, he still faces high expectations. They come from himself.

"I know what I can do; I know I can produce, make plays, and help this team win ballgames," said Prater. "That's all I'm going to do."

As a college receiver, Prater has yet to reach his potential. He has played part of just one season, hauling in one catch for six yards. At USC, various injuries forced Prater to the sidelines, then buried him on the depth chart as a result.

Many worries were felt during the first two weeks of Northwestern's preseason camp, when Prater was forced out of action due to a leg injury. In a deep group of receivers, it would be easy to fall behind the rest of the pack.

However, he returned to the practice field at Camp Kenosha and made two catches -- one in heavy traffic -- during the Wildcats' team scrimmage on Saturday. Prater dismissed any reason for concern, admitting he's being extra cautious.

"One thing I've been doing more this year is taking care of my body when I feel anything," Prater said. "The coaches know that and the training staff understands that. Whatever it takes to keep me healthy, that's what I'm going to do. Right now, I feel great."

Are injury issues a concern for Prater? He doesn't feel so, but would rather be safe than sorry.

"Me being somewhat of a veteran and going through those injuries, I like to stay on top of anything I feel," he said. "Even when I'm not hurt, I'm always in the training room trying to stay on top of anything I feel so i can keep my body right."

In his first season with the Wildcats, Prater hopes he can become a playmaker for his new team, just the way outsiders believe he can.

"That's the goal," he said. "I come out here to make plays everyday. That's why I came here to Northwestern, to be a great receiver. ... I'm coming out here to be the best player I can be."

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers for Big Red Report, and currently covers the Northwestern Wildcats and Chicago Cubs. He currently resides on Chicago's north side.
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