Northwestern got some incredibly good news for its offense. One that should make it a bit easier for Kain Colter to be a passer and give the offense an unprecedented weapon.
The NCAA declared Kyle Prater will be eligible for the 2012 season. This makes an already strong wide receiving group that much stronger. Prater is a 6-foot-5, former five-star recruit who spent a couple seasons at USC where he struggled with injuries. He opted to transfer to Northwestern to be closer to home. The transfer was reportedly for undisclosed personal reasons. The NCAA agreed that the personal reasons were sufficient to grant a waiver of that mandatory year transferees have to sit out.
“Kyle has worked extremely hard since coming to Northwestern to prepare himself for this season and it’s great that he will be rewarded for that effort,” said Wildcats Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald said in a press release. “We’re happy to see him return to the football field and get the chance to play in front of his friends and family here in Chicago.
“Several members of our athletic department staff also deserve a great deal of credit for facilitating Kyle’s eligibility for this season, including athletic director Jim Phillips, director of football operations Cody Cejda and Maureen Harty and Aaron Hosmon in compliance,” Fitzgerald said. “This was a team effort and we appreciate all that they do for our football program.”
Prater has been practicing with Northwestern throughout the spring and summer. He transferred to the school for the spring quarter and participated in spring practice and the spring exhibition. Pat Fitzgerald at that time admitted Prater looked a bit rusty with his football, but it would come back to him as he continued to work. Colter raved about the opportunities and options having Prater lining up out wide. He knows what an incredible weapon Prater can be.
“It’s been a long road so first and foremost I want to thank God for the chance to play football and do what I love,” Prater said in a release. “I feel blessed for the opportunities I’ve found at Northwestern and am excited to get back on the field this fall. My family is very important to me so it means a lot for them to be nearby while I play football and earn my degree at Northwestern. I’m thankful for this decision from the NCAA and am ready to be on the field with my teammates when this season begins.”
Northwestern’s depth chart at wide receiver is stacked with some very solid options.
Senior Demetrius Fields came on very strong at the end of the season, including seven receptions for 73 yards in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. He is the most experienced receiver on the roster and the only returning starter, so to speak. Fields is more of a possession receiver. The deep threats will include Prater (who may be a more all-around, go-to receiver), Tony Jones, Christian Jones and Rashad Lawrence. All those receivers have had their moments fitting into Northwestern’s short passing game.
Jeremy Ebert’s shoes are pretty big to fill, but the Wildcats are likely deepest at receiver and have plenty of weapons and guys who can step into Northwestern’s offense.
Prater has pretty big shoes. He can help fill that role. And maybe more.