IOWA CITY, Ia. — Shaun Prater thought long and hard about turning pro after last football season. One day, he was going. The next, he was staying.
Then came the news that Iowa and Nebraska, finally Big Ten Conference rivals, would meet annually in the season’s final game — the first one at 11a.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb.
That’s when Prater, a Nebraskan, decided once and for all that an additional year as a Hawkeye cornerback didn’t sound so bad. He wanted to finally play against a school 45 minutes from his Omaha home.
“I was thinking about leaving at the time, but when I saw (the schedule), that definitely played a major factor in me coming back,” Prater said this week. “I was thinking about leaving for the draft, but when the schedule came out, I thought it was picture perfect to come back.”
Because of that decision, Prater’s mother happily won’t partake in what she usually does the day after Thanksgiving.
She won’t be elbowing — or be elbowed — during Black Friday shopping rushes.
“I’m a shopaholic, but I won’t be on Friday, that’s for sure,” Cynthia Prater said. “Isn’t that wonderful?”
She wouldn’t miss a chance to see her son playing in Memorial Stadium for the first time since he helped Omaha’s Central High School to a victory against Millard North in a 2007 Nebraska state championship game.
“I’ve got a little history in that place,” Shaun Prater said. “I sometimes pictured myself being on the Black Shirt defense, but (former Husker coach Bill Callahan) didn’t want me.”
By the time new coach Bo Pelini came on board, Prater had already committed to Iowa and coach Kirk Ferentz.
“So that whole time Bill wasn’t there, coach Ferentz was talking to me just about every single day,” Prater said.
Pelini quickly offered, but by then, it was too late.
“When they offered me a scholarship, I promised them I would take a visit, but most likely I was going to stick with Iowa,” Prater said.
He did, and now his biggest problem has been finding tickets.
“You guys got any?” he asked reporters.
His immediate family has tickets, and that’s what counts.
“I’ll probably be someplace up there in the 81st row squinting and saying ‘Is that Shaun?’” Cynthia Prater said. “I hope they don’t put us way up there.”
She’ll be seated in the Iowa family section, likely away from her Mutual of Omaha co-workers.
“They all know my son plays for Iowa,” Cynthia said.
“When I wear my Hawkeye necklace, they freak out. It’s fun.”
WHO: Iowa (7-4, 4-3) at Nebraska (8-3, 4-3)
WHEN: 11 a.m.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football