I've been evaluating high school football players for 30 years and some critics still don't think I know what I'm talking about. Every year, they compare my ratings to other recruiting services. If you do, I think you'll discover that at some point all the evaluators finally agree on who the top 100 to 200 players are.
But there are major disagreements from time to time. I wouldn't describe Kyle Prater as a "major disagreement" but I'm sure some folks wonder how I came to rate the Proviso West wide receiver as the No. 35 player in the nation while Rivals tapped him as the No. 4 player in the country.
In fact, while Rivals singles out Prater as the best wide receiver in the nation, I rate him no better than No. 3--behind Darius White of Fort Worth, Texas, and Jeremy Richardson of Springville, Alabama.
Here is my explanation:
I have seen Prater play. In fact, I discovered him. I was the first analyst to see him in person and on film. He had no scholarship offers when I began to talk about him last October. He ended up with 40 offers and is about to announce his college decision--either Illinois, USC, Notre Dame, Alabama, Tennessee or Oklahoma.
All he lacks is pure speed. He has great hands and great size. But he lacks the speed of the two guys I rate ahead of him. He doesn't have great burst. For example, Randy Moss ran 100 meters in 10.4 seconds. If Prater is the No. 4 player in the nation, he better run the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds. At the combine in San Antonio last January, he ran 4.7.
But who's complaining? Prater is a great prospect, whether he is rated No. 4 or No. 35. Recruiting analyst Randy Taylor of National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA) rates him No. 17. If he improves his speed, he'll be as good as everything thinks he can be.