Using a method that was made famous by former All-Pro receiver Jerry Rice, Kyle Prater learned at an early age to use his hands.
The 6-foot-6, 205-pounder from Proviso West High School in Hillside, Ill., used to toughen his hands by tossing bricks with his father.
"When he was little, I used to take him outside and throw the football to him," Johnny Prater said. "I also used to take little bricks and have him catch them. We would throw bricks about five or six feet apart to toughen his hands."
Rice, the son of a mason, reportedly used the technique to toughen his hands when he was growing up in Mississippi.
Those hands have paid off for Prater. Oklahoma, Southern California, Illinois, Tennessee, Alabama and Notre Dame are the six schools he is focused on the most right now. He does not have any firm dates nailed down, but said he's definitely planning to take an official to USC during the season.
"I want to get out there and check out that school and that program," Prater said. "I like what they do out there."
At this point, Prater said he is not close to making a final decision and said when the right moment comes, he will make the call.
"It could be at any time," he said. "When I get that feeling, I will know."
Johnny Prater agreed.
"When he gets the feeling inside that he knows where he wants to go, then we will come together as a family and talk about it and go from there. I told him I wasn't going to push him into picking a school. I don't want to tell him where to go. It's a feeling that he has to get himself."
Running back Malcolm Jones (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) said UCLA and Stanford are the two schools that are recruiting him the hardest now.
The Cardinal have been considered a team that had a real shot at landing him, but they already have one talented running back, Anthony Wilkerson (Tustin, Calif./Tustin), committed in this year's class. Does that matter to Jones?
"No, that doesn't matter because a good team always has depth at each spot so that just means more depth at running back," he said. "The most important factor for me is going to be academics and then the overall football program."
Jones also spoke of Under Armour All-American and Elite 11 quarterback Nick Montana, his high school teammate and a Washington commit.
"I think he's a good all-around quarterback who is pretty consistent and always puts in 100 percent," Jones said. "Plus, he's also a good leader."
The hot sell: Texas A&M
The Aggies continue to have a good recruiting class under Mike Sherman. Texas A&M topped Southern California for offensive lineman Jake Matthews this week, and previously received verbal commitments from Under Armour All-American linebacker Corey Nelson, among others. Sherman and his staff are doing a great job with what could be the cornerstone of a resurgent class in College Station.
Veteran snags Columbus-Carver pair for Tigers
Clemson picked up its third and fourth commitment within 24 hours Tuesday when defensive end Corey Crawford and offensive lineman David Beasley (Columbus, Ga./Carver) pledged to the Tigers.
This is not the first time Carver High School has been in the news of late. Head coach Dell McGee banned recruiters from the University of Georgia from his campus after he claimed the Bulldogs withdrew a scholarship offer to Carver quarterback Devin Burns while he was on campus in Athens.
College coaches are barred from commenting on specific recruits in the media.
Both players were recruited by Clemson secondary coach Charlie Harbison, a veteran assistant coach in the Southeast, who previously was the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State under Sylvester Croom and worked at Alabama under Mike Shula. Harbison is in his second stint at Clemson. He previously worked at the school from 1995-97 and worked with head coach Dabo Swinney at Alabama from 1998-2000.
Crawford is one of the top defensive line prospects in the Southeast. The 6-6, 250-pounder picked the Tigers over a host of offers from other programs, including Auburn, Alabama, Ole Miss, Florida, Florida State and Georgia, among others. He's also a mid-major basketball prospect.
"[Harbison] was a big factor," Crawford said. "He and [Tigers defensive line coach] Chris Rumph both. At Clemson, they not only care about football, but they care about you as a person and they like for you to be a part of their family."
Crawford and Beasley join defensive back Martin Jenkins (Roswell, Ga./Centennial) and tight end Sam Cooper (Nashville, Tenn./The Ensworth School) as the most recent additions to the Tigers' Class of 2011 prospects.
Cooper camped at Clemson and caught the attention of the Tigers' coaches there. Jenkins' father played with and was coached by Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele at the University of Tennessee.
In-state offensive lineman Kalon Davis (Chester, S.C./Chester), whom the Clemson staff is high on, committed last Friday.
Clemson would complete the trio at Columbus Carver should it land Class of 2011 defensive lineman Gabe Wright.
Wright has been making the rounds, visiting multiple colleges unofficially this summer and said his current top five is Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia and Tennessee.
Crisp to transfer
NC State commit offensive lineman Robert Crisp, an ESPNU 150 Watch List selection, and defensive back commit Peter Singer are leaving Chapel Hill High for nearby Cedar Hill High, according to their father, Peter Singer Sr.
Singer Sr. had no comment beyond that, other than to say nothing has changed with the pair's verbal commitment to the Wolfpack.
Two at the top
Under Armour All-American defensive end Corey Lemonier (Hialeah, Fla./Hialeah) said Tuesday night that his top two schools are identical to those of his teammate, Calvin Smith -- Illinois and New Mexico.
Lemonier is also considering Florida State, Miami (Fla.), Ole Miss and others.
It looks like Oklahoma has taken the lead for Under Armour All-American receiver Darius White (Fort Worth, Texas/Dunbar). Duke commit linebacker Aramidie Olaniyan (Woodberry Forest, Va.) said he is still firm with the Blue Devils, but plans to visit Michigan and UCLA. "I like both coaching staffs a lot," he said. Offensive lineman Arie Kouandijo (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha) said he could possibly narrow down his list toward the end of this week. Pearl-Cohn High in Nashville has two Class of 2011 prospects to look out for: wide receiver Nick Heel and defensive back Richard Taylor. When South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier praised offensive line coach Eric Wolford at SEC media days for getting "seven or eight guys" committed to the Gamecocks, he wasn't kidding. Wolford, who came to South Carolina after a two-year stint under Ron Zook at Illinois, has had a hand in nine of the Gamecocks' 15 commits.
JC Shurburtt covers recruiting for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.