SAN ANTONIO – Hillside (Ill.) Proviso West junior receiver Kyle Prater drove nearly 1,200 miles from suburban Chicago to San Antonio last week for the U.S. Army National Combine.
It ended up being well worth the drive.
Because of his dominating performance at the combine, Prater has been named the Rivals.com Most Outstanding Performer. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound prospect couldn't be stopped in the one-on-ones and did well in the testing, drawing rave reviews from Rivals.com analyst Barry Every and the other analysts covering the event.
"He's just a big receiver with excellent ball skills and amazing body control," Every said. "He could be the next in line like Julio Jones and Rueben Randle. It could end up someday being Jones, Randle and Prater. He's incredible on film and showed it in the combine. He's got the physical makeup to be the next great one."
After running in the 4.6-second range in the 40-yard dash on a slow track, Prater said he had to make the trip worthwhile after the long drive.
"I came away pretty happy about my performance in San Antonio overall," Prater said. "I figured since my parents decided to drive like 1,200 miles there and back, I better bring it pretty hard for them. I wanted to make sure that I was able to represent Illinois in a positive way. I read about all of these kids from other states all the time, but Illinois has some players, too, and I wanted to prove that at the combine."
He did that and more.
"The one-on-ones are where I can just go out and beat people," said Prater, an all-state selection as a junior who already has scholarship offers from Illinois, Iowa, Purdue, Northwestern and Cincinnati. "I'm able to use all of my abilities to go get the ball and I just enjoy getting matched up against some good defensive backs. I enjoy that challenge every time. You'll always see a smile on my face in one-on-ones for sure, and again I thought I did my best in that situation at the combine."
His best will likely catapult him on the national scene. His videos were already drawing rave reviews from coaches that recruit the Big Ten region, but he's likely now to explode and become a true national recruit.
But like any great one, he's not satisfied with being good. He wants to be great.
"I want to just get better with my 40 time for sure," he said. "I'm going to work even harder to improve my overall speed. The combine was a great starting point for me. I want to take that into my senior year and become an even more complete player."
OFFENSIVE MVP: OL James Hurst
6-5/275, Indianapolis Plainfield
Hurst was a well-known commodity coming into the combine as his prospect video was already drawing rave reviews from fans in the Midwest and college coaches from all over the nation. His performance in the one-on-one battles should help cement his name as one of the top line prospects in the nation.
"He had the best feet of any lineman in the camp," Every said. "He also has a nasty disposition. He needs to continue to get stronger and add about 10 to 15 pounds, but he has good height, long arms and excellent lateral movement. I have no doubt he will be one of the most sought-after offensive tackles in the country."
Hurst already has offers from Duke, Indiana, Michigan State, Mississippi State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Purdue and others. But he surely will be one of the most heavily recruited prospects in the nation for 2010, and he proved it at the combine.
DEFENSIVE MVP: DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa
6-3/220, Portland (Ore.) David Douglas
One of the biggest surprises coming into the event as his name hadn't been mentioned as prominently as others when it comes to being a national recruit.
However, pound-for-pound he was one of the strongest and quickest competitors in the event. The coaches at Oregon and Oregon State are already well aware of him, offering him scholarships early on, but he definitely has the type of game that could allow him to be a national recruit.
"He's also a real high energy kid," Every said. "He's very explosive on the ball. He might only be in the 220-pound range, but it was quite impressive to see him bull rush and overpower 300-pound linemen on several occasions. He should be one of the top weakside defensive ends in the country for 2010."