- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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"Megatron" is coming to a Big Ten city near you this fall.
No, it's not another "Transformers" sequel (thank goodness), but the immediate and much-anticipated arrival of receiver Kyle Prater to Northwestern. The NCAA ruled on Tuesday that Prater could play right away this season after transferring from USC in the winter. Prater, who's from the Chicago area, requested the waiver by saying he had transferred closer to home for a family issue.
If you simply look at Prater's career numbers -- one catch for 6 yards last year with the Trojans -- you might say, "Big deal." But it is kind of a big deal, minus the sarcasm. Prater was a high-school All-American and one of the top recruits in the country in 2009. He battled thumb and hamstring problems as a redshirt freshman at USC, which had Robert Woods and Marqise Lee to throw to, anyway.
Oh, and there's this: he's 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds. It's that size, combined with his athleticism, that had Northwestern teammates calling Prater "Megatron" this spring. At one point, quarterback Kain Colter compared him to Calvin Johnson.
Now, to be sure, Prater has a long way to go to play like Johnson. But at the very least, he's going to be a huge target on third downs and in the red zone for Colter, which will be a nice advantage as Colter adjusts to becoming a full-time quarterback. And Prater has the talent and potential to do a whole lot more than that.
I ranked Northwestern No. 1 in the Big Ten receiver rankings earlier this month, and that was without knowing Prater's status. This only solidifies the Wildcats' claim to having the deepest receiving corps in the league, as Prater joins Demetrius Fields, Christian Jones, Tony Jones, Rashad Lawrence and and others. Northwestern should once again have a prolific passing attack, even with the loss of the league's all-time leader in passing percentage (Dan Persa) and one of the best pass-catchers in school history (Jeremy Ebert).
Prater wasn't available for interviews after the announcement but had this to say via Twitter: "I want to thank the NCAA for allowing me to play this upcoming year, I'm so blessed for this opportunity, it has been a journey #GoCats"
The NCAA got this one right and sure seems to be leaning more toward players in these cases. Receiver DeAnthony Arnett received a similar waiver as he moved from Tennessee to Michigan State, as did Prater's former USC teammate Amir Carlisle with Notre Dame. I'm all for fewer restrictions on player movement, especially if that player has a legitimate family reason for transferring closer to home.
This is great news for Northwestern and should make for one happy Megatron.
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