MORGANTOWN — Go out tonight and look up toward the stars in the sky.

Ever wonder how many you see? It has been written that on a clear night you can see about 10,000, which probably isn't as impressive a number as you may have thought.

See, there are said to be 100 thousand million stars in the Milky Way and 200 billion trillion — or slightly less than your credit card and student loan debt — in the universe.

The point is, there are stars up there somewhere that you don't see.

In sports, it's really no different and we offer up Kaden Prather as proof, a sophomore wide receiver who is rapidly reaching star status for the Mountaineers but who is doing so without his best work gaining full recognition.

Not to worry, for it won't be long before this 6-4, 211-pound wide out from Montgomery Village, Maryland, is grabbing as many headlines as he does passes.

Right now he's the wide receiver opposite Bryce Ford-Wheaton, the senior who is simply here making a pit stop on his way to the NFL.

Prather spent last season learning his craft and the coaching staff, envisioning him in offensive coordinator Graham Harrell's new offense. Harrell saw him making huge strides this year, but he stumbled out of the starting gate with two drops and a fumble lost against Pitt.

In the three games since then he has caught 18 — six in each game — for 199 yards and his first collegiate touchdown.

But the focus has not been on him as he plays in an offense quarterbacked by JT Daniels and with a budding superstar at running back in true freshman CJ Donaldson along with Ford-Wheaton and All-American center Zach Frazier, not even mentioning the defensive All-American Dante Stills.

There are only so many headlines to go around.

This spring, Prather's position coach Tony Washington, a one-time NFL receiver himself, did more than just hint that great things were being expected.

"He's just a young kid who, I think, doesn't know how good he really is," Washington said. "I think he can be phenomenal. I think he can be one of the best players I have worked with. I think he will be an NFL draft guy. With him, it is just understanding that I have to be locked in every day."

He followed that advice in the spring, through the summer and now in the fall.

Each game he does something good, maybe great. He goes deep and runs screens. He risks his body on tough catches, twists for back-shoulder throws.

And he does whatever the wide receiver coach likes — often unseen by the public — blocks.

A wide receiver blocking is like one of those billion trillion unseen stars somewhere in the universe, but it shows up on film and on the video board.

Against Towson, on CJ Donaldson's 80-yard touchdown run, Prather saw to it that no one would catch Donaldson from behind.

"The O-line made it very easy and KP had a great block down the field," said Donaldson, having seen it on the big video board's replay.

"The block was a great play ... good awareness, great selfless play. We talk about that all the time," Harrell said. "If he came in here, he'd probably talk about that. It's something we talk about all the time in that room and that was a great example of that.

"One, he gave great effort to get there," Harrell continued. "Then he had enough sense to not get a flag for a crackback block or anything. He just kind of shut the guy off. Then, after he shut him off the first time, he came back and shut him off again. I don't know if that would have mattered or not but that was great effort, great team play."

Then, in a hostile atmosphere unlike any he had ever experienced at Blacksburg — although Pitt came close for the noise level — he made all the big plays that set up the headline plays.

Consider the biggest drive of the game the two-minute drill that ended with Daniels making a perfect 24-yard strike for a touchdown to Sam James to turn a 7-6 Virginia Tech lead into a 13-7 WVU advantage that changed the whole flow of the game.

The drive started with two passes to tight end Mike O'Laughlin, then Prather caught a pair of first-down passes as the clock ticked down, one of 14 yards, the other of 13.

The next play from the 24 was the touchdown pass to James.

Then before WVU got into position for a fourth-quarter field goal from Casey Legg, his fourth of the game, Prather made that possible with a clutch fourth-and-2 catch of 8 yards for a first down.

It was the only pass WVU threw or completed in the fourth quarter.

What we're saying is that Prather just makes plays — key plays.

"Coach Washington always says, 'Who's going to be at their best when their best is needed?' That's always going through my mind," he said.

Follow @bhertzel on Twitter.

Trending Video

Recommended for you