Prater Finally Makes It Back To ND

SAN ANTONIO - As a 10-year old, Kyle Prater stood in the Notre Dame locker room, visiting his cousin and former Notre Dame quarterback/receiver Carlyle Holiday.

A wide-eyed kid that very much looked up to Holiday, Kyle Prater got some individual time with then Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham.

"I remember being in the locker room, talking to Tyrone Willingham one-on-one," Kyle Prater began. "He was just telling me, I remember what he said, if you want to make it to the top, all you have to do is work hard. And I seen the Play Like a Champion thing, I saw that, and I remember thinking I wouldn't be coming back."

Just a child, Prater figured wrong.

Now one of the top receiver prospects in the Midwest, the 6-foot-4 ½, 195-pound standout from Proviso West High in Hillside, Ill., has been hearing a lot from the Irish staff, and finally visited Notre Dame again on Nov. 22nd for the Irish-Syracuse game.

"It was nice," Prater said. He already holds scholarship offers from Illinois, Iowa, Purdue, Northwestern, Cincinnati and Illinois State. "It was crazy actually being in the stands. The student section was throwing snowballs at the camera man. It was kind of funny, but then again it was very exciting watching the game, the intensity, the rituals, everything, the walk, I really enjoyed the walk.

"It was real cold, but I was really evaluating everything. Nice facilities, it was real nice, and I'm always going to keep Notre Dame in mind."

It's easy to see why all these programs have Prater on their mind, and why he dominated during one-on-ones at the Underclassmen National Combine inside the Alamo Dome on Friday afternoon. Despite Proviso West's 2-7 record, Prater managed to catch 60 passes for 948 yards and nine touchdowns.

Notre Dame assistant coach Rob Ianello keeps in regular touch with Prater, and has also been by the school.

"Me and Ianello are real cool, real cool.

"He really said he likes the way I attack the ball, and I'm very aggressive," Prater said. "He said being my size and being tall, and being able to run after the catch, that's what I really focus my game on, making plays after the catch, and being aggressive."

Prater could be back at Notre Dame soon for the program's junior day on January 24th. The basketball team hosts Connecticut that evening, and ESPN's College Gameday crew is expected to be in.

"I need to call Ianello and check up on that, and talk to my family and see if we can head down there on another trip," Prater explained. He is also looking to get over to Iowa and Purdue for junior days. "But that would be great if we can get down there again."

It had been awhile since Prater last talked to Holiday, but the two reconnected on Thursday of this week.

"We talk once in a blue moon, but it was my first time really seeing him since he was drafted into the NFL," Prater said. "He was just giving me a few words of encouragement through the recruiting process. He was like stay humble, which I already have been doing and am going to keep on doing, and keep working hard, keep putting the work in on the books, academics, and if you keep doing that, that will get you to the top. That's what I'm pushing for, to be number one."

The two also talked about Notre Dame.

"He said as long as you keep in touch with (head coach) Charlie Weis, that will be good. He told me about Tyrone Willingham. It would be good if he was still there."

With a lot of college options, and certainly more to come, Prater and his family have already talked about the possibilities of staying close to home or going far way for school.

"I talked to my family about that all the time, about the geographic location," Prater said. "We basically talk about whatever's right for me. My family wants me to stay in-state so they can see the games, but then again they say its up to you to find what school you want to go to. I feel like I have to go through the process, and narrow down the schools that are best for me."

Perhaps it will be the same school that was right for his cousin Holiday.


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