After hearing about the prank call that wide receiver Mohamed Sanu received from a Bengals imposter in the first round before being drafted by Cincinnati in the third round, Shaun Prater was cautious when the 513 area code popped up on his cell phone on Saturday afternoon.
"I have an iPhone so it has all of the area codes and states and stuff," said Prater. "When they first called, they hung up and I thought it was a prank call. Then they called me back, and I looked up at the TV and it said the Bengals had the next pick. I saw that they needed a cornerback so I just took a deep breath and prayed to God and hoped that this was real."
The call was no prank as the Bengals selected the Iowa cornerback with the first of their three fifth-round draft picks. Prater and first round pick Dre Kirkpatrick add youth to the veteran cornerback corps of Leon Hall (27), Nate Clements (32), Terence Newman (33), Jason Allen (28) and Adam Jones (28).
"It gives us another guy that will compete," said head coach Marvin Lewis. "He's been a great guy in coverage at Iowa. They play a lot of quarters coverage which we like to play—with him out there playing some of that—and then clouding up, so he's done a couple of things that will transfer well coming into the NFL.
"He was one of their outside gunners and will be a great guy competing for those spots with us here (on special teams)."
Prater was a two-time All-Big Ten selection and finished his career with seven interceptions in 35 starts. Additionally, he was one of the Hawkeyes top performers on special teams.
"At Iowa, they teach you to be very disciplined and very smart," said Prater. "We have to know the game plan of the opponents, we have to know formations and personnel, and we have to play fast mentally as well as physically. Coming from Iowa and playing under Coach (Kirk) Ferentz, I'm truly blessed to have the opportunity. He does a great job of getting every player ready for the next level."
Prater outlined his special teams duties for the Cincinnati media in Saturday's conference call.
"I was the corner on punt defense, I was on kickoffs, I tried to catch some kickoffs, catch some punts ... I pretty much asked the coaches to put me in everywhere," said Prater. "If you want me to hold the ball, play quarterback – I'll do whatever it takes to win."
Prater, who was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine and played in the East-West Shrine game, was watching the draft with his family with the Bengals called.
"I was watching just about every bit of it," said Prater. "(Now) I'm going to turn it off and go walk my dog.
"It's a big, big relief. That was the longest wait of my life."