ESTERO, Fla. (BVM) – It has been 20 years since Matt Prater graduated from Estero High School, yet he is still proudly representing the Wildcats program every Sunday.
Prater arrived at Estero as a sophomore, transferring from Cypress Lake High School.
Teammates and coaches quickly realized that Prater was much different than the typical high school kicker.
Prater made 14 field goals at the prep level with a long of 49. He also made 97% of his extra points and 84% of his kickoffs were touchbacks.
As a senior, Prater was named first-team all-conference and second-team All-State.
Prater spent his college days at the University of Central Florida where he gave himself a chance at a NFL career.
As a starter as a true freshman, Prater made his first collegiate attempt from 53 yards.
During his sophomore year, the Knights utilized Prater in a punting role also. He made 76.9% of his field goals that season while averaging 47.9 yards per punt.
Prater made 50 field goals throughout his time at UCF which is tied for the school record.
After going undrafted in the 2006 NFL Draft, Prater signed on with the Detroit Lions.
Despite a good preseason, veteran Jason Hanson was the clear starter, resulting in Prater getting released.
Prater spent the next couple of preseasons trying to latch on to a roster, but he would not get his first chance as a starter until 2008 with the Denver Broncos.
In week four, Prater made a big statement with a 56-yard field goal. This would be the third-longest in franchise history.
He finished the year with a 73.5 field goal percentage, proving that he was a NFL caliber kicker.
In 2013, Prater set a new NFL record with a 64-yard field goal against the Tennessee Titans.
After spending seven years in Denver, he was replaced by Brandon McManus and was cut during the 2014 season.
He returned to the Detroit Lions, who gave him his first preseason opportunity. However, this stint would be much longer.
In 2016 during a game against the Chicago Bears, Prater hit a 59-yard field goal, setting a new franchise record.
Prater would spend seven more seasons in Detroit before signing with the Arizona Cardinals in 2021 as a 37-year-old.
Now in year two with the Cardinals, the two-time Pro Bowler remains one of the most reliable kickers in the game.
From Estero High School to the NFL, Prater has sealed his path in football history.
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