Proviso West wide receiver Kyle Prater is going to USC, not Illinois, and maybe he made the right decision. Prater is an outgoing personality--he turned his recruiting into a sideshow--so he could be a good fit in the glitzy world of Los Angeles. But will he be a good fit at USC? Would he have been a better fit at Illinois?
"The way USC can recruit, Prater might end up somewhere else by February," recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said. "USC will still go after wide receivers. They have guys ahead of him who are stars. He should have gone to a school where he would have been the go-to guy. But apparently he was just more comfortable at USC."
It is apparent Prater was blown away by the celebrity and aura of the USC program. Choosing USC says he is a national recruit, maybe as good as Rivals says he is, the No. 2 player in the nation. But Lemming argues Prater isn't even the No. 2 player in the Chicago area, that he ranks behind Illinois-bound tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz of Johnsburg and Notre Dame-bound offensive lineman Christian Lombard of Fremd.
"He has 4.7 speed. If he had 4.3 speed, he'd be the No. 2 player in the country," Lemming said.
Someday, down the line, by the time they are juniors or seniors, we'll know for sure how good each of them is. Or if someone else in the class of 2010 is better. The point is Chicago has a lot of national recruits and schools that rarely if ever recruited here before, like USC and Alabama and Oklahoma, are spending more time in the area.
At the moment, Prater fits perfectly into USC's mold, like Michael Williams and Dwayne Jarrett. He isn't a burner but he has decent speed, a big body (6-4. 200) and great hands. He catches everything in the red zone within reach. He is USC's kind of player.
But USC likes to stockpile talent. Only a few days before Prater's commitment, USC received a commitment from wide receiver/defensive back Robert Woods of Gardena, Calif., Lemming's choice as the No. 10 player in the nation. Lemming rates Prater at No. 35.
In the final analysis, all of the schools Prater was considering--USC, Illinois, Alabama, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Tennessee--would have been a good choice. He is a star. But all of those schools have star receivers. All of them use four or five receivers so he couldn't have made a bad choice.
But if he had chosen Illinois, he would have played right away. Arrelious Benn made an instant impact as a freshman in coach Ron Zook's offense. Prater lacks Benn's speed but he has size. He is a big, physical receiver. The Illini might have been a better choice. But USC was Prater's dream school. For his sake, let's hope his dreams come true.