Josh Proctor Believes Longer-Than-Expected Ohio State Career Has Prepared Him Well for NFL

By Dan Hope on March 1, 2024 at 10:15 am
Josh Proctor
Trevor Ruszkowski – USA TODAY Sports

When Josh Proctor first arrived at Ohio State in 2018, he would have guessed he’d already be three years into his NFL career right now.

Instead, Proctor spent six years in Columbus, taking a redshirt year when he suffered a compound fracture in his leg in 2021 and using the extra year of eligibility that all players were provided due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

“My whole thought process coming out of high school was three-and-done. And that’s everybody’s plan coming out of high school. But you never know what's going to happen,” Proctor said.

Now, though, Proctor finally has the chance to achieve his NFL dreams after saving his best season as a Buckeye for last. While Proctor was in and out of the lineup for most of his career due to injuries and inconsistent play, he became a stalwart in Ohio State’s secondary in 2023, starting 11 games at free safety and earning third-team All-Big Ten honors as he provided consistent coverage on the back end and made big plays throughout the year.

Given that Proctor will soon turn 25, his age could be used against him in the NFL draft process as he is older than the typical draft prospect. But Proctor believes he’s much more prepared for the NFL now than he would have been a few years ago.

“It helped me mature. Helped me learn, helped me grow in different aspects in life,” Proctor said Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “So honestly, it's just a great opportunity to be a better person, a better player at the end of the day.”

Proctor acknowledges there were moments when he wasn’t sure if his chance to play in the NFL would ever come. But he’s glad he stayed the course to get to where he is now.

“I'm not gonna lie and say there wasn’t (times he doubted himself). Definitely that 2021 season after I had the leg injury,” Proctor said. “I didn't feel like I was gonna come back like myself. I didn't know like if I was ever going to perform like I could or be myself, honestly. And it took a whole year. It took a whole year to get back to that. But I'm finally here, I finally feel like myself and I feel good.”

Proctor knows there are plenty of people doubting his ability to play in the NFL because of how long it took him to get to this point. But that just makes him hungrier to prove he can play at the next level.

“I feel like I’m doubted a little bit, honestly. So I'm coming in with a chip on my shoulder,” Proctor said. “I just want to come out here and prove what I can do.”

By playing at Ohio State for six years, Proctor had the opportunity to learn from a wide variety of coaches as he had five different defensive coordinators – Greg Schiano, Jeff Hafley, Kerry Coombs, Matt Barnes and Jim Knowles – across his six seasons as a Buckeye. He lined up at three different positions in the secondary – free safety, strong safety and nickel – and saw extensive playing time on special teams, giving him confidence he can find a fit with any team.

“I've seen so many different schemes, I've learned so many different things,” Proctor said. “A lot of it is the same, but the terms may be different. I've seen a lot, and I know a lot, so I feel like that's helped me over time just mature and grow as a player and learn this game.”

Proctor has also had the opportunity to practice against a multitude of receivers who have since gone on to play in the NFL including Terry McLaurin, Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba, among others, with projected top-five 2024 draft pick Marvin Harrison Jr. soon to join them. So the caliber of receivers he’ll go up against in the NFL won’t be anything new for him.

“It’s helped dramatically, honestly,” said Proctor, who said Wilson was the toughest receiver he had to cover in practice at Ohio State. “It might be tough in practice but you get out on that field, you don't see many people much better than those guys.”

After a long wait to get to where he is now, Proctor will get his chance to work out for NFL scouts on Friday and is planning to go through a full on-field workout. While he didn’t want to say exactly what numbers he’s hoping to hit in his workout, he expects to surprise people with how well he performs.

“Just wait and see, but I'm definitely going to shock some people,” Proctor said. “Definitely will. That’s my plan.”

“I feel like I’m doubted a little bit, honestly. So I'm coming in with a chip on my shoulder.”– Josh Proctor on his mindset entering the NFL Combine

Above all, the biggest thing Proctor wants NFL teams to see from him is his passion for the game, which has driven him to persevere through all of the ups and downs of the past six years to keep his football career going.

“I want them to know I love this game. I have a passion for it. And there's nothing I wouldn't do to step out onto the field and give you my all,” Proctor said.

View 8 Comments