116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Shaun Prater was built with no "off" button.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior cornerback grew up in Omaha, Neb., in a household that included four brothers. He wasn't quite the youngest. He entered the world 20 seconds before twin brother, Shane.
Older brother Nate was a 6-4, 265-tight end at Kansas State in the mid-2000s. "If Shane and I weren't twins, maybe I would've been a little bit taller," Shaun joked Tuesday after Iowa's practice.
Randy Hopkins, another brother, was a wide receiver at Nebraska-Omaha. Shane started out as a wide receiver at Iowa right alongside his twin, but academics forced a transfer. He's now playing at Texas A&M Kingsville and has two seasons of eligibility there.
So yeah, no "off" button, not when you're living in basically the football-version of "Malcolm in the Middle."
"There was plenty of competition," Prater said. "There were times when I just wanted to watch TV and be a normal 8-year-old, but my brothers Nate or Randy would be like, hey, go outside and play basketball. Hey, beat him in this.
"It was constantly a process where someone was always challenging me."
That competition produced a pretty good Big Ten corner. Prater has earned first-team all-Big Ten the last two seasons. He has seven career interceptions going into Iowa's Insight Bowl matchup Friday against No. 19 Oklahoma (9-3). He also tied for 21st in the country with four forced fumbles. In Iowa's opener, Prater returned an interception 89 yards for a TD, the fifth-longest in Iowa history.
The stat Prater likes the most might be the forced fumbles. That's a product of a physical player, someone who isn't afraid to mix it up. When you grow up playing basketball against an older brother (Nate has three years on Shaun and Shane) who outweighs you by around 100 pounds and is close to a foot taller, you're built to mix it up.
And when you're built without an "off" button, you sometimes might bite off a little more than you can chew.
During his sophomore year in 2009, Prater did just that.
Michigan visited Iowa and brought running back Brandon Minor, a burly 6-1, 220-pounder. Prater came up to support the run and . . .
"I went full speed and tried to tackle him up top, that's the last time I was run over," Prater said. "I probably weighed 173 and he was about 230. I ran full speed and ended up on the ground."
Micah Hyde, who's played corner alongside Prater for the last two seasons, was asked the same question, has Prater ever bitten off more than he can chew?
"I've seen that one time, Minor got him," Hyde said. "But the thing is, no one would've guessed. He hopped right back up and started running around and doing his little Prater thing, like he made the tackle. You would never have guessed, but in the film room after that game, it was pretty funny."
Prater keeps getting up and doing his "little Prater thing."
There might not be a Hawkeye who gets more out of his body. He fought through a hamstring injury earlier in his career. He also was one of 13 Hawkeyes who ended up in the hospital last January after an outbreak of rhabdomyolysis during a strenuous winter workout.
Even here in Arizona, as a senior going into his final game as a Hawkeye, Prater is pushing it. Neither he nor coach Kirk Ferentz would answer if Prater ended up in the hospital this week. Prater came off the practice field Monday with ice on his right knee and wore a wrap on it Tuesday.
He looked fine, though, moving through drills with the same juice he seemingly puts into everything. His approach has been aggressive since day one and remains so through year four.
"My mom (Cynthia) used to punish us if we would break stuff," Prater said. "If she whupped us, we'd end up sitting there laughing. I don't know, the coaches call me crazy."
No "off" button. Can't have an off button growing up with three brothers who won't let you sit and watch cartoons. No way you can have an off button as a 180-pounder cornerback in the Big Ten.
No off button. Nope. Can't have one.
"I have no 'off' button," Prater said. "Even when I'm sleeping, I'm twitching in the bed, trying to pick the ball off and making sure my footwork is perfect.
"It is an endless process to always be the best. I'm still trying to be the best."