CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Prather Hudson started his college football journey at one of the best programs in the country, but he’s jumping head first at the opportunity to play at Illinois.
“I felt like it would be a new opportunity to branch out and see what I could make of myself,” says Hudson. “I obviously love Georgia, and I love the coaches there, and I have a lot of respect for them, but the opportunity with Coach Bielema at Illinois was something I couldn’t pass up.”
The 5-foot-11 defensive back committed to Illinois as a grad transfer in January, and is already on campus. Hudson spent five seasons at Georgia, where he redshirted his freshman year, before becoming an elite member of their special teams unit. He’s played in every game for three-straight season, including the Bulldogs’ run to the National Championship game in 2018.
“If I had the opportunity at the biggest possible stage, with the best players, I wanted to see if I could play with them, and I believed in myself. Sure I had smaller offers at other places, but I didn’t want to have that regret of going to Georgia and it not working out.”
That chance paid off. Hudson started at a walk-on with the Bulldogs, earning a scholarship after two seasons. His story connected him to new Illini head coach Bret Bielema, who also started out as a college walk-on at Iowa.
“It’s definitely something that resonated with me, and something that connected us,” says Hudson. “I’ve never been the fastest or the strongest or the biggest, and I’ve always carried that throughout high school and college. That’s the one thing that hasn’t made me fearful of things, is that nobody expects you to do what you’re supposed to do, except for yourself. So there’s really no pressure except the pressure you put on yourself.”
“He played on one of the biggest stages there is,” says Bielema. “That’s something that I’m really looking for is if we do bring in a transfer, especially grad transfer, that they bring more than just talent. That they bring in character, demeanor, a work ethic, and a standard of play.”
There are a few familiar faces in Champaign for Hudson as well. He played with Illinois graduate assistant Carson Hall, who connected him to the program. Hudson also reached out to his former Georgia teammate Luke Ford, who transferred to Illinois after the 2018 season.
“I played with him for a year. He was actually one of the first guys I contacted up at Illinois,” says Hudson. “My parents had a conversation with his parents about the Illinois culture and just the fan base, and just the ins and outs of everything. They said nothing but good things and that definitely gave me a lot of confidence.”
A native of Columbus, GA, Hudson never expected to end up at Illinois. Both of his parents grew up Auburn fans, but the safety is putting his faith in the new coaching staff, with the goal of helping to turn the program around.
“I want to come here and win games, I believe in Coach Bielema, and I believe that that staff he’s putting together is top-notch, and I’ve seen what it takes to go to a Championship game, and he’s definitely got that mindset and that culture that he’s going to instill in this program.”