Football: Kyle Prater working out, still
June, 9, 2011
By Pedro Moura | ESPNLosAngeles.com
In mid-April, a few days after USC's monthlong practice schedule had wrapped up for the spring, redshirt freshman receiver Kyle Prater offered a revealing Tweet to his thousand-plus followers.
Revealing, but not in the typical way that word would be used to describe athletes on Twitter -- revealing in terms of his inner psyche.
"Coach Kiff said to me today he feels I work to [sic] hard, he wants me to calm down a lil bit," Prater wrote at the time. "But I told him I can't help it, I wanna be da best."
140 characters might not be much, but, right there, they go a long way toward explaining the 18-year-old Prater and all of his intricacies.
He missed most of spring practice last year with thumb and hamstring injuries after enrolling early, then ended up redshirting the fall season, too, because of a variety of nagging injuries. Then he missed 2011 spring practice with a fractured foot he suffered in winter workouts.
And, still, he stayed positive -- even as began to develop the dreaded injury-prone label across the country, which often tends to find a way onto guys with poor work ethics and lazy rehabilitation patterns.
Not so with Prater. His issue, as he first disclosed in the April tweet about his coach, Lane Kiffin, is simply working too much.
And he's doing it again.
At USC's second throwing session of the summer Tuesday, Prater was out on the field with his teammates catching passes and participating in team drills, looking not completely healthy but close enough, close enough to make an impact. The previous week, he said he was basically healthy but needed another week to get cleared by the trainers.
Tuesday, he sheepishly admitted he still wasn't officially cleared to participate fully.
"Yeah, I kinda did what I wasn't supposed to," Prater said. "But that's just me being competitive, like I've been all my life. I'm just hungry to get back out here with my teammates and make an impact."
Prater is an impact type of player, even considering all the time he's missed. Not many players -- not many redshirt freshman, even more -- would be able to have a legitimate chance to win a starting spot despite missing significant portions of all three camps he's been with the team.
But he is able, and he's anticipating the opportunity early this summer and attempting to get back into the flow of football before the fall even starts. It might sound a little counter-intuitive for a player whose main fault is, again, working too hard, but who said you had to fix all your faults?
The workout helped him, he said. And that's what he felt mattered -- nothing else.
"That's why I did it," Prater said of the getting-used-to-it process. "You can't duplicate what 7-on-7's, 1-on-1's and team drills do. You have to get out here and actually do it for yourself with the team.
"That's why I came out here, to get a feel for it again."
And about his talks with Kiffin, Prater takes what can only be described as a half-mature, half-immature approach.
"Sometimes I tend to be a little bit hard-headed and don't listen to what my teammates and coaches tell me as far as working," he said Tuesday. "But I can't help that -- that's something that's in my blood and was installed in me at an early age. Everything wasn't given to me; I had to earn it with the talent that I did have.
"So it's just hard for me when Coach Kiffin tells me to chill out, but it's just something I've been doing my whole life. He likes it, I know it. He loves it."