- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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Kyle Prater was discussing his college football future with his parents, Johnny and Sonya, and Proviso West coach Famous Hulbert as the family's TV was turned on to ESPN in the background on Tuesday evening.
Ohio State and Purdue were playing, and Johnny and Hulbert would turn their heads occasionally to the game. In one of those moments, they saw the words that would solidify Prater's college decision once again -- Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin was headed to USC.
"Once that happened, it was like, 'Wow, let's do it,' " Hulbert said.
In that that instant, Prater, one of the nation's top wide receivers, went from talking about re-opening his recruitment following the departure of Pete Carroll at USC to him being confident the Trojans were the right program for him again.
Prater hopes to begin classes at USC next week, according to Hulbert.
Prater's previous relationship with Kiffin restored the recruit's confidence in USC. Prater had visited Tennessee before his high school season, and it was among the schools he was considering before he originally committed to USC in September. It was also one of the programs he was going to give another look at after Carroll made his decision earlier this week to take the head-coaching job with the Seattle Seahawks.
"He was very fond of Coach Kiffin," Hulbert said. "Kiffin was at USC when they had three Heisman Trophy winners. He was there when they had the most prolific offense in NCAA history. Coach Kiffin always talked about playing with big receivers, and things like that. In all honesty, it is a better situation now than it was before. You can see what Coach Kiffin did to Mike Williams, how he threw the ball to Mike Williams and how he set all those records. He throws the ball more than Pete Carroll.
"When it came across last night he was going to be the next coach at USC, it was a very exciting moment for Kyle."
Prater -- ranked 45th on the ESPNU 150 overall and ninth among receivers -- also considered Illinois, Notre Dame and Oklahoma when he first committed to USC. Shortly after that decision, he began calling his commitment soft and continued to keep his options open. Later, he reaffirmed his USC choice after reexamining Illinois and Notre Dame. When news broke of Carroll leaving USC while Prater was at U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio on Saturday, he was ready to begin the process again.
"The whole Pete Carroll situation was a reminder of the business of college football," Hulbert said. "Kyle going out there to USC is a business decision."
Prater was an ESPNChicago.com all-area football player after catching 58 passes for 1,014 yards and 10 touchdowns while leading Proviso West to its first-ever playoff appearance.
Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at email@example.com.
22hKevin Van Valkenburg