Monday July 27th, 2009

You probably won't see too much of Kyle Prater on the TV broadcast (Tuesday, 7 p.m., ESPNU) of the Champion Gridiron Kings seven-on-seven tournament. The 6-foot-5 receiver from Hillside, Ill., tweaked his hamstring before the Midwest team's final televised game. That could be for the best, because a nationally televised dose of Prater at 100 percent could send fans of his five choice schools into a frenzy.

Even against some of the best defensive backs in the nation, Prater made tough catches appear effortless and ran much faster than someone his height and weight (a solid 210-215 pounds) should be able to run. That's why ranks the Proviso West star as the No. 1 receiver in the country. The ranking certainly isn't a stretch; Prater looks an awful lot like Alabama's Julio Jones and Georgia's A.J. Green did in high school, and those two made an immediate impact in college.

Prater has narrowed his choices to Alabama, Illinois, Oklahoma, Tennessee and USC, and he plans to enroll in January and take part in spring practice before his freshman season. Because of that, he'd like to wrap up his recruitment sooner rather than later. "If things go accordingly, I would try to get it done early," Prater said. "But if things have to get pushed back, they have to."

Prater plans to take an unofficial visit to Tennessee on Aug. 1, proving that first-year Volunteers coach Lane Kiffin and his staff have made inroads with some of the nation's best players. Kiffin assigned recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron to Prater, and the top recruit has taken a liking to the former Ole Miss head coach. "He's cool," Prater said. "He's just a laid-back country guy."

Laid back? Informed that he might be the first person to use that adjective to describe Orgeron, Prater laughed and said he has yet to meet the fiery Louisiana native in person. Prater said he also wants to take an unofficial visit to Alabama, and he plans to take official visits to Oklahoma and USC.

All five schools on Prater's list would love a receiver who can out-leap any corner and hold his own with many in a footrace. Saturday, in a preliminary-round upset of the Southeast team that won the tournament, Prater kept his eye on a pass tipped by Florida-bound safety Jonathan Dowling, grabbed the ball and sprinted away for an 80-yard touchdown.

Prater's fellow recruits have tried hard to sway him. Downer's Grove, Ill., quarterback Chandler Whitmer (Illinois) and Wichita, Kan., quarterback Blake Bell (Oklahoma) have done the most selling, Prater said. But if he has a favorite, he isn't tipping his hand. "I don't have a preference," he said. "I just want a [school] where I'll get a chance to work hard and get a chance to play."

Florida held its Friday Night Lights camp on Friday, and though some of the nation's best players attended, the buzz in Gainesville was about the player who wasn't there when the camp ended.

Tavadis Glenn, a 6-foot-5, 265-pound defensive tackle who will play this fall for Raines High in Jacksonville, Fla., was booted from the camp after repeatedly making a "U" sign with his hands during drills. That Glenn made the sign shouldn't surprise anyone. He's been committed to Miami -- affectionately known as "Da U" -- since April.

Florida's sports information department released a statement that said Glenn was asked to leave because of safety issues. In other words, coaches worried prospects committed to Florida and Miami might end up fighting. Glenn told The Sporting News that he feels his ejection has cast him in a bad light.

"I was in shock; I was thinking how they wanted me to come down here to their camp," Glenn told The Sporting News. "They knew I was committed to Miami before I came down. Everybody knows that ... They just told me to leave for safety issues. I wasn't a threat to anyone. I'm a giant. When I buckle up the chinstrap, I'm mean, but off the field when I'm not lined up, I'm a good guy. They're trying to slander my name, and that's not me."

Glenn probably should have had the good sense to keep his hands down during the camp, but Florida coaches are equally at fault for overreacting. They knew several campers had committed to rival schools. They shouldn't have been shocked when those players acknowledged the school they plan to attend.

And why would those players attend? Simple. They know and writers will be in the stands, and they want to grab more stars and increase their recruiting rankings. Glenn's fellow Miami commit, Raines defensive tackle Louis Nix, spent several minutes after the camp trying to cajole Rivals national analyst Mike Farrell into giving him a fifth star. Nix, whose play at the camp made a convincing argument for star No. 5, said he still plans to visit other schools.

Notre Dame commitment Chris Martin's name looked out of place on the Gridiron Kings roster. Though the 6-4, 250-pound defensive end/tight end will play this fall at The Hun School in Princeton, N.J., Martin played Saturday for the West team. That's because Martin is from Oakland, Calif., and he'll only be spending his senior year of high school on the east coast before heading to South Bend.

Martin's reason for the cross-country move should make Notre Dame coaches smile. He wants to spend a year at a boarding school to ensure he's prepared to handle college life. "It's more of a lifestyle change," Martin said. "I feel like I'm immature in a lot of ways as far as carrying myself, responsibility, time management. It's time to step outside of my comfort zone."

That statement proves Martin is more mature than he thinks. Martin said Peter Skov, the father of current Stanford freshman Shayne Skov, recommended three schools. After researching the trio, Martin picked The Hun School, which produced former Florida State football player and Rhodes Scholar Myron Rolle. Now, he's preparing for a rigorous academic load.

Prior to his trip to Florida for Gridiron Kings, Martin began plowing through Hun's summer reading list. He just read Freakonomics, the 2005 book in which economist Steven D. Levitt points out, among other fascinating tidbits, that inner-city Chicago gangs have a similar corporate structure to McDonald's.

Martin said he's nervous about the challenging workload, but he hopes to emerge from his New Jersey odyssey a more well-rounded person. So the west coast guy will head east for a little more seasoning, and then he'll try to become a college football star in the Midwest. "The only place I haven't been yet is the South," Martin said with a smile.

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