Kyle Prater (Hillside, Ill./Proviso West) continues the tradition of tall, physically imposing wideouts for USC under Pete Carroll and should develop into a very productive pass-catcher during his career with the Trojans. Currently rated as the No. 8 overall receiver in the country, the Illinois native was one of the more dissected and evaluated prospects upon the release of our ESPNU 150 in August. Our discussions stemmed around the fact that the 6-foot-6 receiver possessed both off-the-charts strengths and a few weaker areas we felt could be exposed at the major college level.
We were fortunate to see Prater compete live this summer to supplement our extensive film review. On the hoof, there might not be a more physically impressive-looking receiver prospect. Prater has excellent height, a large frame and big, strong hands that pluck most balls thrown in his vicinity. He has an extremely wide catching radius to go along with very good athleticism, coordination and body control for a receiver with such awesome size. We expect him to potentially dominate as a jump-ball receiver and develop into an immediate red zone target for the Trojans. Prater could be as productive as former Trojans All-American wideouts Dwayne Jarrett and Mike Williams in that facet.
However, we do feel he may not be as productive as those two when taken out of that jump-ball element. Prater is not a real sharp or fluid route runner and we do not see great burst or quickness in and out of his breaks. We also question his ability to separate as an intermediate-to-deep route runner because he lacks great top-end speed and tends to gear down at the top of his stem. While the Trojans' coaching staff will be able to polish his footwork and hip sink out of his breaks, this mammoth wideout is simply not a natural quick-twitched athlete.
Prater will be playing in a good system to take advantage of his big-catch ability and should have a number of underneath, complementary receivers to open things up for him and fill some of that big-play ability after the catch that he's missing.
USC has missed out on a few upper-tier receivers the past few years and lacks young depth at the position, but it's certainly making up for it in 2010 with Prater and No. 3 overall WR Robert Woods (Gardena, Calif./Junipero). Plucking the highly coveted Prater out of the Midwest also shows the recruiting power Carroll & Co. still have on a national level when they target an elite prospect at the top of their board. USC's current class is ranked in the top 10 and is loaded with four-star prospects, particularly on offense.
Billy Tucker is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc.