By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – From a physical standpoint, Kadyn Proctor seems to have everything that is needed to be a star offensive lineman at the collegiate level.
Size, strength, flexibility, quickness, balance; you name it and the 6-foot-8, 335-pound Proctor has it as a five-star recruit.
He also has a Who’s Who list of schools trying to land him, but his list was trimmed to just two schools on Friday as Proctor announced some big changes to his recruitment.
The senior-to-be from Southeast Polk announced that he would choose between Iowa and Alabama and that he has canceled upcoming official visits to Penn State, Oregon and Michigan.
Proctor will now instead take an official visit to Iowa on June 24, and he already has visited Alabama on an official capacity.
He also visited Arkansas State during the first week of June because that was the first school to recruit him and is the home of his former high school teammate and quarterback, Jaxon Daily.
The visit to Arkansas State appears to have been Proctor’s way of paying respect to the school that recruited him first and to his former high school teammate and close friend.
His friends and teammates at Southeast Polk also were a factor in Proctor’s decision to cancel three official visits.
“I want to focus on my last high school football season, and these visits have made me miss countless workouts at school,” Proctor wrote in a statement that he posted on his Twitter account. “I feel like the University of Iowa and the University of Alabama are my top two picks as of now, as I’ve been to both places multiple times and have loved every second of both.”
Proctor didn’t list Iowa as one of the schools that he would officially visit when he announced his top schools last month and the visits that he planned to take.
But he also explained that he didn’t need to visit Iowa on an official capacity because he already had visited the school just two hours east of his home eight times unofficially.
Recruits often change their plans, however, and that’s what Proctor has done for reasons that say a lot about his unselfishness and maturity.
Instead of being gushed over on official visits, Proctor wants to live in the moment and enjoy his final season of high school football with the people who have helped to shape his childhood, and he apparently doesn’t want to waste the time and resources of schools that he no longer has interest in attending.
He could’ve easily kept his feelings private and still visited Penn State, Oregon and Michigan in order to feed his ego and build his brand because all three schools would’ve have rolled out the red carpet for who many believe is the top offensive lineman in the 2023 class.
But Proctor instead wants to get the most out of his high school experience, and that’s sort of refreshing in these times where some recruits seem more concerned about getting the most out of the recruiting process.
“I truly appreciate every one of these wonderful universities that have reached out and given more offers or shown interest, but for now, these two schools (Iowa and Alabama) are where I’ll be making my decision off of,” Proctor said.
There isn’t anything wrong with wanting to get the most out of the recruiting experience and with basking in the spotlight. Recruits work hard to reach an elite level and the recruiting process is part of the reward.
But for Proctor, the recruiting process apparently had become a distraction and was taking time away from something that means a great deal to him, which is being a high school kid.
It’s easy to forget due to his enormous size and strength that Proctor still is just a kid enjoying high school in many ways.
He seems more concerned right now with enjoying the journey than focusing on the destination, and that, too, is refreshing because not everyone in Proctor’s unique position feels that way.
Proctor apparently cherishes his high school experience enough to turn down three visits that most kids would only get to a dream about.
Again, that says a lot about him as a person.
His change of plans was treated like the first moon landing in recruiting circles as fans from both Iowa and Alabama expressed their joy on social media, while some also took shots at each other.
Iowa will certainly have its work cut out to land arguably the most heavily recruited player in state history because Proctor knows that going to Alabama would put him in position to compete for national titles on a regular basis under Nick Saban, who is now considered by many the greatest head coach in college football history.
Saban has led Alabama to six national titles since taking over as head coach in 2007.
And though Iowa can’t compete with Alabama’s dominance under Saban, Iowa does have some built-in advantages, namely distance from home and the fact that Proctor’s close friend and former Southeast Polk teammate, Xavier Nwankpa, signed with Iowa in 2022 and is now enrolled in school.
Nwankpa, who plays defensive back, also had his pick of schools as a five-star recruit.
But he ultimately picked Iowa over Notre Dame and Ohio State.
Iowa also has Kirk Ferentz as its head coach, and his area of expertise is the offensive line.
Ferentz has a knack for turning unheralded recruits into star offensive linemen, so it’s easy to think that Proctor as a five-star recruit would thrive under his tutelage.
Kirk Ferentz spent nine seasons coaching the Iowa offensive line under Hayden Fry from 1981 to 1989, and Ferentz also spent six seasons coaching the offensive line in the NFL.
Solon native Tyler Linderbaum came to Iowa in 2018 as a three-star defensive lineman recruit and left as arguably the greatest center in program history.
Kirk Ferentz’s instincts told him that Linderbaum could be special as a center, and Ferentz now looks like a genius in this case.
But with Proctor, there is no uncertainty about where he will play in college as he appears to be tailor-made for either the left or right tackle position.
Iowa’s success under Kirk Ferentz pales in comparison to Alabama’s success under Saban. But Iowa still has a proud tradition of sustained success, including 10 wins in two of the past three seasons.
Iowa also won the Big Ten West Division last season and is considered one of the favorites to win it again this season.
Proctor has been compared to former Iowa All-America tackle Tristan Wirfs, who grew up in Mount Vernon and was picked in the first of the of 2020 NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Wirfs now starts at right tackle for Tampa Bay and helped win a Super Bowl as a rookie.
His success at Iowa has to make an impression on Proctor because it shows what can happen in just three seasons under Kirk Ferentz. Wirfs became a starter as a true freshman in 2017 and was ready for the NFL after just three seasons.
Alabama also has countless individual success stories to promote, but Wirfs’s success at Iowa hits home with Proctor.
As for the impact of name, image and likeness, it’s hard to say because Proctory hasn’t said anything publicly about its importance.
Iowa probably couldn’t match what Alabama has to offer, but Iowa should be able to come up with some type of NIL plan if that is part of what it would take to land Proctor.
Proctor will ultimately make a decision that he feels is in his best interest, and whichever school he chooses should be a win for him because both have a lot to offer.
Nwankpa was in a similar position just a few months ago, and he’s now in Iowa City and just a couple hours from home.
That could prove to be a difference.