'10 Unwrapped: Kyle Prater, 2010's No. 1 WR

When a TheBootleg.com reporter caught up with Kyle Prater last week, the nation's top wide receiver in the Class of 2010 was quick to praise the Cardinal. But with 24 offers and counting, Stanford has a ton of competition. How much contact are they in with the rising senior from Illinois, and will they get a visit? Read on!

"I know academically, they're one of the top schools in the country and athletically, football-wise, they're on the verge of being a good school in the Pac-10," Kyle Prater said of Stanford. "And I've heard the campus is nice, a big community. But I know a lot about them. … Stanford has everything. There's nothing more they can show me – the school speaks for itself. It's a great school and I have to give them a look."

That's the good news for Stanford fans. The bad news, then, is that the Cardinal is hardly alone in its pursuit of Prater, and the Hillside, Ill. star (Proviso West HS) reports he hasn't been in that much contact with the Cardinal, and isn't sure if he will make it out to visit Palo Alto, Calif.

"I haven't been in contact with them as much as I would like to, but I've been doing a lot of schoolwork and working out, so it's hard to contact a lot of schools," he said. "Right now -- I don't know at this moment, I'm still figuring it out – I don't know if want to get out there and check it out. I'd have to get more in touch with the coaches. .. But right now, I'm trying to see my options, so I don't really know."

If Prater sounds a little overwhelmed right now, that's certainly understandable. He reports 24 offers according to Rivals.com -- Illinois, Arkansas, Arizona, Cincinnati, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Stanford, Notre Dame, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Vanderbilt, Virginia, California, East Carolina, Oklahoma, Tulsa, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa State – and many of those schools have not been shy in calling the 6-foot-5, 192-pound wideout.

"All the schools that have offered keep in contact with me," he said. "Well, I have a lot of schools that contact me, but I'm seeing my options right now. I have a couple schools in mind, but I'm keeping my eyes open."

While Prater is loathe to officially name any leaders, he does admit certain schools have stood out more than others.

"Oklahoma [stands out] a lot, and that's another school I'm looking at," he said. "Illinois, that's my in-state school, and Notre Dame and a few others are just about the same right now."

And though he already has two dozen schools to choose from, Prater admits there are a few additional schools which might intrigue him were they to offer.

"I just got off the phone with USC [head defensive coach] Ken Norton, and they're probably going to be offering soon, in May," Prater told TheBootleg.com in an exclusive interview last Wednesday. "And there are SEC schools -- Georgia, Alabama -- schools like that. But if a school offers, it offers. I'm going to look at it just like everyone else -- I can only pick one school."

Prater will lean heavily on his family as he attempts to narrow down a list of schools currently two-dozen long to one -- his ultimate college destination.

"My family and I, we have been doing a lot of research on the schools that I visit, the schools that I look up and the schools I talk to on the phone," he said. "I don't know which will be in my top-five, or which I'll go to [on official visits], but that can wait. … It's the academics, it's the school itself, beyond football, how does that school stand with you and your family, it's the coaches. There are a lot of things you can look at and will factor into my decision."

Prater adds he personally is looking for a school with four qualities: a program that can prepare him well for the NFL, a strong academic school, a school that he feels comfortable with overall, and one where he feels a bond with the players and coaches. Prater does hope to play in the NFL after college, and already, he knows which NFL wideout he models his game after.

Well, some say I'm too big to play wide receiver, but I've got deceptive speed," he said. "I'm more like a Randy Moss, deceptive speed type of receiver. … I compare myself to him all the time. I watch him all the time. I look up to him, and obviously, he's not perfect, but I really do idolize his game.

"But I pattern my game off a lot of people. I've learnt so much. From Moss, it's how to be versatile and win jump balls. But it's not just Moss, I'll watch the little guys like Steve Smith and Dante Hall, and try to learn something and add it to my game. I like to critique my route running, so I watch a lot of Jerry Rice. He was like a computer in his routes."

While Prater hopes that he's one day in the same league, both literally and figuratively, as those star receivers, in the meanwhile, he reports he's working hard this offseason to prepare for his senior year.

"I'm just doing a lot for my overall physique," Prater said, "trying to get bigger, faster, stronger. I've gotten a lot faster, and I'm getting more flexible. I want to be more of an overall player."

Prater knows not to be too hard on himself either, though. In addition to his football speed, he can point to a few attributes that help him stand out on the field.

"My hands -- I take pride in catching with my hands, and you'll rarely see me catch with my body," Prater said. "Plus, there's my route running and there's my size."

The hands, the size, the route running and the speed for his size –all those attributes have helped make Prater the nation's most highly coveted receiver in his 2010 class. In turn, Prater can afford to wait to commit to a school, knowing full well that a program will keep a scholarship unfilled, in hopes that he might commit there. And, indeed, waiting is exactly what Kyle Prater says he might do.

"I hope to commit after my senior season, on National Signing Day," he said. "It could happen before, I might do it in the US Army [All-American] Game, I don't know. I don't know if I'll commit at a game or at school. … I'm not a media guy and don't get into all that, but if I feel it's right at that moment, I'll do it. If happens with the hats and all that, I'll do it." However Kyle Prater ultimately decides to announce his college selection, The Bootleg will be there with insight and analysis. Stay tuned!

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