Northwestern WR Kyle Prater mentored by Brandon Marshall

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Kyle Prater, left, worked with Bears receiver Brandon Marshall to prepare for Northwestern’s Pro Day on Tuesday.

During the two weeks of workouts, and after three years of friendship, Kyle Prater never asked Brandon Marshall what all of Chicago wants to know: where the Bears receiver will play next year.

“We don’t talk about it, as far as each other’s future; we just talk about the now,” the Northwestern receiver said Tuesday after the Wildcats’ Pro Day. “I know Chicago loves him here and wants to keep him here.”

Prater first met Marshall three years ago and calls him a mentor. Starting in late December, he trained for about eight weeks at his gym, Fit Speed Athletic Performance in Weston, Fla.

During their last two weeks, Marshall — who the Bears have not publicly committed to keeping — taught the 6-5 Prater the finer points of being a tall receiver in the NFL

“Working on little things here and there — getting my hips down, staying fluid — and then the mental aspect of it, too, as well,” Prater said.

There was a time the five-star recruit from Proviso West, seemed a lock for the NFL.

He redshirted his first year at USC then caught one pass the next season.

After transferring to Northwestern in 2012, he caught just 19 balls over two seasons before a solid senior campaign in which he caught 51 passes for 525

Prater admits his career “didn’t go the way I wanted it to,” but says he’s set to prove to scouts that his size doesn’t make him “just a one-trick pony.”

He ran a 4.71-second 40-yard dash Tuesday in front of representatives from 29 NFL teams, including Bears assistant director of college scouting Jeff Shiver.

His two Florida workout-mates didn’t run. Safety Ibraheim Campbell, potentially the Wildcats’ highest draft pick in a decade, will work out March 17 after suffering a hamstring injury last month. Receiver Tony Jones rolled his ankle last week.

“I think Brandon’s really taken (Prater) under his wing,” Jones said. “It’s paid tremendous dividends for Kyle. He looks great. This is the best I’ve seen him look in the past three or four years that I’ve known him.”

His five-star prep pedigree doesn’t matter to scouts, coach Pat Fitzgerald said, as much as what he did as a senior.

“Do they,” he said, “play like a five-star guy in between the white lines in college?”


Twitter: @patrickfinley

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