A pair of football players at Division 2 NCAA powerhouse Minnesota State-Mankato have ties to Ferguson, Missouri – the center of America's controversial death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a police officer Aug. 9.
Herschel Prater, a junior offensive lineman, is from Ferguson. Dorian Buford, a senior wide receiver, grew up in Florissant, a town that neighbors Ferguson.
Prater is a 6-foot-6, 305-pound starting guard. He was an All-State First Team player in Missouri, where he attended McCluer South-Berkeley High School. Buford went to McCluer North High School. He played his first three years of college football at Missouri State before transferring to Mankato. He caught his 15th touchdown pass of the season in the Mavericks' win over Minnesota Duluth in the national quarterfinals on Saturday. MSU is ranked No. 1 in the country and UMD was No. 2.
Prater hasn't been back to Ferguson since he first arrived in Mankato in 2011.
“There was too much going on in Ferguson that might not be good for me," he told the Star Tribune. "It’s much quieter here. Play football and go to school. I enjoy that.’’
Prater's mother is out of work in Ferguson because her place of employment was burned to the ground during one of the riots. The same thing happened to another relative, and one of his cousins was hurt during a riot.
Prater said "it's sad seeing that happen in your hometown."
Buford didn't comment in the Star Tribune article, but he has expressed his thoughts on Twitter about Ferguson, including this message from Nov. 24.
Minnesota State hosts Concord University – a school in West Virginia – in the national semifinals on Saturday. If they win, they'll play Dec. 20 in the Division 2 National Championship Game.