We continue the Better Know a Buckeye series with its fifth installment in 2018. Here, we profile Josh Proctor, a safety from Owasso, Oklahoma.
- Size: 6-2/190
- Position: S
- Hometown: Owasso, OK
- School: Owasso
- 247 Composite: ★★★★
- National Ranking: 71
- Position Ranking: 7 (S)
- State Ranking: 2 (OK)
- U.S. Army All-American
- The Opening Finals
Proctor will have a unique spot in Ohio State football lore as the first player from Oklahoma to sign a letter of intent to play football for Ohio State. The state's best players usually end up in Norman and Proctor seemed no different until the Buckeyes routed the Sooners early in the 2016 season. Proctor, evaluating both Ohio State and Oklahoma at that point, was in attendance and made a follow-up visit to see the Buckeyes wax the Cornhuskers. His next visit after that was for Ohio State's 2017 spring game, where he committed as the fifth member of what would become Ohio State's full 2018 recruiting class.
I retell this story below. I start first with his recruitment and how Ohio State positioned itself against Oklahoma following its demolition of the Sooners early in the 2016 season. I discuss the rationale for his commitment, which held notwithstanding a strong push from Lincoln Riley who hoped to capitalize on Oklahoma returning the favor in the Horseshoe last season. Thereafter, I provide a scouting report of a promising safety prospect with incredible athleticism. I conclude that we can expect to see Proctor on special teams in 2018 and offer some highlight film to watch at the end of the feature.
Few things about Josh Proctor's recruitment as it began gave any indication he would commit to Ohio State relatively early into the process. Ohio State had never signed a recruit from the Sooner State. It had also not exerted too much effort toward that end even as Ohio State is a national program with a national focus. Oklahoma is not necessarily rich in talent. Its top player could play for any program, but usually stays close to home. Indeed, the best players in the state usually arrive in Norman for college football.
More Josh Proctor at 11W
This seemed like it would be Josh Proctor. The Sooners rely more on Texas than Oklahoma for talent to fill out the roster but it's on top of things in its own state. Oklahoma was even Proctor's first offer, which came in November 2015 during his sophomore year. Proctor said he was speechless after receiving it.
On Wednesday evening Oklahoma offered 2018 defensive back, Josh Proctor (Owasso, OK). When the offer happened I spoke to Proctor about it being his first, and a big one at that. Proctor said he called Sooners defensive backs coach Kerry Cooks before church. At that time he spoke with Cooks but also said, “I spoke to about five different coaches. They passed the phone around. I even spoke with Bob Stoops.”
“I was speechless. I don’t even remember what coach actually offered me,” the talented OK Preps prospect said. Needless to say the offer meant a great deal and Proctor is wasting no time in getting over to Norman, as he plans to be in attendance for this weekend’s TCU game.
Proctor's recruitment seemed to be all-Oklahoma even as Oklahoma State eventually followed with its own offer early in 2016. His crystal ball projections on 247Sports didn't indicate a landing spot other than Norman.
However, a chance arrival in Columbus shook things up. The Buckeyes hosted Josh Proctor and rewarded him with a scholarship offer shortly thereafter.
Great Visit! pic.twitter.com/zBe1mU3plO
— Josh (@Jproctor_2018) June 10, 2016
The pitch was multi-faceted, highlighting both the "family" aspect of the program and highlighting how unusual Proctor's offer was. Proctor felt special that Ohio State, which said it doesn't recruit Oklahoma much, made this offer. It catapulted Ohio State to the top of the list with Oklahoma.
Ohio State took the lead when Proctor arrived in Norman to see his top two programs duke it out to start the home-and-home series. Therein, Ohio State secured a first-round knockout of the Sooners en route to a 45-24 win. Proctor, then a junior, made it a priority to see Ohio State's atmosphere for himself more than a month later when he arrived in Columbus to watch the Buckeyes blast the Cornhuskers, 62-3. Proctor was impressed both times and cited the atmosphere at Ohio State as one of the best parts of his visit.
It was his next visit to Columbus for Ohio State's spring game in 2017 that sealed the deal.
Josh Proctor committed to Ohio State on April 15, 2017 as the fifth member of what would become its full 2018 recruiting class. He chose Ohio State over Oklahoma. In our community interview, he highlighted the environment and atmosphere surrounding the program and gameday as what sold him on turning down the Sooners to come to Columbus.
— Josh (@Jproctor_2018) April 15, 2017
Proctor swore his recruitment was over thereafter and seemed sold on Ohio State over last summer. However, this durability seemed suspect in the fall for a few reasons. One, Bob Stoops' retirement and Lincoln Riley's arrival seemed like it was going to bear immediate dividends. Indeed, the Sooners returned the favor from the 2016 beatdown by defeating the Buckeyes by double digits in Ohio Stadium. Proctor admitted that got him a lot of grief when it happened.
Further, Proctor was a top player in Oklahoma. It would be malfeasance for Lincoln Riley to not make him a priority. The pressure was constant and even elicited a visit to Norman in October. However, Proctor eventually informed Lincoln Riley he was going to honor his commitment to Ohio State. He signed with the Buckeyes at a high school ceremony coinciding with the early signing period.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) December 20, 2017
WHERE HE EXCELS
Josh Proctor is a ball-hawking safety prospect who immediately grabs attention as both a two-sport athlete in football and basketball as well as a two-way player on the gridiron. He's an exceptional athletic prospect.
I'm most intrigued by his frame and his athleticism. At 6-2, Proctor has the ideal height and wingspan to thrive at safety. However, he plays with more power than his 190-pound frame implies. Since he's a two-sport athlete in which it doesn't make much sense for him to add too much bulk when basketball season is around the corner, a dedicated conditioning program should make the most of the frame he has. He has considerable potential to be an imposing safety.
Most of the superlatives we afford Proctor highlight those features about him. He should match well with tight ends. Coaches should have a lot of confidence about him in man coverage against a tight end or a slot receiver. He's also further ahead in his recognition of routes than most of his peers at safety.
MUST WORK ON
I would otherwise critique that he's better in run support than he is in coverage but that's true of every linebacker or safety prospect. It's otherwise an unexceptional observation.
The biggest worry from his highlight film is that his tackling form is, to be polite, raw. He hits with power but tends to aim high. He does not reliably wrap or follow through. At best, this is going to result in more missed tackles at the next level. Some of his hits will invite even stiffer penalties where rules regarding targeting are better regulated and enforced.
I don't see a clear path to the two-deep as a true freshman. Damon Webb's departure creates one opening but the Buckeyes have solid depth at safety to account for his departure this upcoming season. That said, Proctor has ideal size, speed, and athleticism for special teams play in 2018. Expect to see Proctor on kickoff duties this year.
Here are Proctor's junior-year highlights: