Northwestern's Prater plays waiting game

Kyle Prater believes his case is strong.

He has filed the necessary paperwork and, along with Northwestern, explained to the NCAA why he deserves a waiver that would prevent him from sitting out a season after transferring from USC. The NCAA received all the documents it needs and likely will rule on Prater's case before training camp begins in early August. A family issue prompted the wide receiver to transfer closer to his home in Maywood, Ill.

At this point, all Prater can do is wait.

"It's something I can't control," Prater told ESPN.com this week. "I know this university has worked real hard. It's in the NCAA's hands, so we're being patient and I’m just going out here, working hard every day and let those things control themselves."

Prater acknowledges he's optimistic about receiving a waiver, and recent cases elsewhere strengthen his belief. His former USC teammate, running back Amir Carlisle, received a waiver after transferring to Notre Dame in January. Carlisle wanted to play closer to his father, Duane, hired last February as Purdue's director of sports performance.

Another Big Ten receiver, Michigan State's DeAnthony Arnett, received a waiver last month after transferring from Tennessee to be closer to his ailing father.

"When I hear stuff like that, it gives me more confidence that everything's going to go through," Prater said. "It makes me optimistic when those guys got the good news, and I congratulated them on that. From that standpoint, I think I'll have some good news, but that's just me being optimistic and having faith."

Every waiver case is different, and the NCAA has denied applications from players like Kansas' Justin McCay.

While Prater awaits word, he continues to work out with his teammates in preparation for camp and the season. He participated in most of spring practice on a somewhat limited basis, beginning the transition from USC's pro-style offense to Northwestern's spread.

Although the Wildcats have good depth at receiver, the 6-foot-5, 215-pound Prater provides a uniquely big and talented target for quarterback Kain Colter.

"I understand everything they want me to do out there," Prater said, "be a playmaker like I've always been. A lot of the stuff was the same, just different terminology, so I think it's going fairly well."

From a recruiting standpoint, Prater is the most decorated prospect to play for Northwestern in decades. ESPN Recruiting rated him as the nation's No. 45 prospect in the 2010 class. Although aware of Northwestern during his recruitment, Prater didn't seriously consider the Wildcats at the time.

"When you're 17, 18 years, it's hard when there's so much on your shoulders, so many people pulling at you," he said. "At that time, I felt it wasn't the right choice for me, but I always had love for Northwestern.

"Who thought I'd be right back here today?

If granted a waiver, Prater will have three full seasons to play for the Wildcats and will join a talented receiving corps that includes Christian Jones and Demetrius Fields. If his request is denied, he'll sit out 2012 and have two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Prater expects to hear the news from head coach Pat Fitzgerald --"hopefully sooner than later," he said.

"I'm optimistic and I have strong faith," he said. "But I've already got my mind made up if I don't get the waiver or if I do, I’m still going to be the same guy who came in and worked hard and wanted to play. I'm going to go out there and do my best."