The NCAA still must decide Kyle Prater's status for the upcoming season, with a decision expected soon. The talented wide receiver is preparing for his first campaign with the Northwestern Wildcats.
Prater's decision to leave USC and move close to home at Northwestern -- 30 minutes from his hometown of Maywood -- was a transition based on the need to be near family and friends.
Among those close to Prater is longtime Proviso West head coach Famous Hulbert, who coached the wide receiver for four seasons. Hulbert maintains frequent contact with Kyle and his family.
"He's excited to be home," said Famous Hulbert, Prater's coach at Proviso West High School. "His family needed him home and he needed to be with them. It's a win-win for everyone."
Prior to Prater's entrance to Northwestern, the program filed a petition to the NCAA asking for a waiver which would allow him to play this season.
While Prater, those close to him, and NU head coach Pat Fitzgerald have declined to comment on the petition's specifics, each party remains optimistic it will be approved. Hulbert echoed those sentiments.
"We're cautiously optimistic," said Hulbert. "We're hopeful that based on past practice -- what has happened to several kids this year (receiving NCAA waivers) -- when they weigh out all the facts, that Kyle will be cleared to play this year."
If Prater is permitted to play this season, Hulbert expects a standout season. Of course, Prater was a five-star recruit and All-American with Hulbert's Panther squad.
"He's going to bring Northwestern big-play potential and big-play capability," said Hulbert of Prater. "He's 6-foot-5; you have to double-team him, otherwise he's going to bring you problem. He's a defensive coordinator's nightmare."
While Prater brings explosive playmaking abilities on the field, Hulbert remembers him as being a better person.
"We miss him more for his off-the-field efforts than his on-the-field efforts," he said. "He was a coach's dream; one of those kids that only comes around, if you're lucky, once. He was a pleasure to have and we miss him."