I was on the field at the Proviso West/Proviso East game last Saturday and Kyle Prater was very impressive. He definitely is one of the leading wide receivers in the nation. I feel very comfortable in rating him as the No. 35 player.
But I think he made a big mistake when he recently made an oral commitment to USC. He never should have committed in the first place. He is the kind of kid who, even if he commits, will keep looking around because he likes the attention.
He backed off shortly after making his announcement, claiming it was a "soft verbal" and he wanted to take more official visits. He shouldn't have done it at all. Kids shouldn't back off from a commitment unless the coach is fired and they shouldn't make a commitment unless they are 100 percent sold on a school academically and athletically.
There is no such thing as a "soft verbal." It's like saying you are married but you still want to date other girls. It is a verbiage made up by Internet sites to keep the recruiting process going. And it keeps other colleges in the mix. So why did you commit in the first place if your game plan hasn't changed?
You are either committed or you are not committed. Like you are either pregnant or you're not pregnant. You can't say you are committed and still visiting other schools. According to the dictionary, a commitment is a binding pledge. Are you a person of integrity? Is your word good? Did you tell USC coach Pete Carroll that you were giving him a "soft verbal?" How do you think he would have accepted that explanation?
From where I sit, having observed the recruiting process for 30 years, it is apparent that Prater is feeling pressure to change his mind. Which only proves if he wasn't a "solid" commitment when he originally announced for USC, he should never had done it. He has plenty of time to make a wise decision and call a press conference in February.
Right now, as far as I'm concerned, Prater is not committed. His press conference was a sham. Too many kids, like Prater, get caught up in the recruiting hoopla--who has more scholarship offers, who takes more trips, who gets invited to USC or Texas or Oklahoma or Alabama--and some of them get lost in the fanfare.
Hopefully, Prater won't be one of them.