By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Despite the high-level competition, Kadyn Proctor seemed destined to be an Iowa football player.
His friendship with Xavier Nwankpa.
Being close to home.
And learning under the supervision of Kirk Ferentz were all key factors that even mighty Alabama couldn’t offer the Southeast Polk senior-to-be.
That’s why it hardly came as a surprise that Proctor, a five-star offensive tackle in the 2023 class, committed to Iowa over Alabama on Thursday.
Alabama fans might snicker or roll their eyes in response to those factors because Alabama under legendary head coach Nick Saban has one giant advantage over Iowa, which is playing for national championships on a regular basis.
For some kids, the chance to compete for national titles as part of a traditional blue blood program is just too good to pass up.
Former Cedar Falls offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher picked Alabama over Iowa in 2014 after having previously been committed to Iowa, and he would go on to win two national titles and make 57 starts for the Crimson Tide.
Pierschbacher’s decision worked out almost perfectly for him.
He apparently didn’t mind the distance from home, nor was the pull from the home-state school strong enough to keep him home.
And to each his own.
Proctor, on the other hand, issued a statement on Twitter in which he thanked those who have impacted his life in a positive way and helped him reach this milestone moment.
He then ended the statement by saying “I’m Staying Home.”
And by staying home, the 6-foot-8, 331-pound Proctor will be reunited with his high school teammate, Xavier Nwankpa, will be less than two hours from home, and will learn under Kirk Ferentz.
“Size, athletic ability, production, he’s been all-state a couple years; he’s got long arms, great feet, he’s got everything that a good offensive line coach wants to develop into a number one draft choice,” said veteran recruiting analyst Tom Lemming, who ranks Proctor the top high school offensive lineman in the country. “I’d be surprised if he doesn’t end up as a No. 1 draft choice.”
Nick Saban is arguably the greatest college head coach of all time, and deservedly so.
He is to coaching defensive backs what Kirk Ferentz is to coaching offensive linemen.
And while Iowa is certainly not anywhere close to being at Alabama’s level, Iowa is hardly a pushover, having won 10 games 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 this coming season.
Kirk Ferentz is Iowa’s all-time winningest head coach, and the longest-tenured head coach in the country.
He has helped turn multiple offensive linemen into NFL millionaires, many of whom were unheralded recruits, and some who didn’t even play offensive line in high school.
So, just imagine what Kirk Ferentz and offensive line coach George Barnett should be able to do with a player as talented as Proctor.
Iowa fans probably have been imaging that from the moment Proctor announced his decision.
“He’s got all the tools to be a number one draft choice,” Lemming said “Throw that in with the fact that he’s being coached by Kirk Ferentz, it’s almost like a no-brainer if he stays injury free.”
Half the fun of recruiting is this part, the recruitment itself, the hype, the rankings and the expectations.
The other half won’t start until Proctor actually joins the team and tries to live up to the enormous expectations.
With that will come a lot of pressure.
It’s easy to forget due to his size and physical ability that Proctor in many ways still is just kid.
Alabama fans will move on from this disappointment to the next five-star recruit and life will be just fine, while Iowa fans will bask in the joy of this triumph.
“To me, it would have been a surprise if he didn’t go to Iowa,” Lemming said. “Alabama fans now are spoiled because Nick Saban is doing so well that they think they can get almost anybody that gets an offer, which they do. They hit on more guys than I’ve ever seen in the 43 years I’ve been doing this.”
It’s hard to think of another high school that has produced two five-star recruits that would go on to pick Iowa. And to have it occur in back-to-back recruiting cycles just adds to the enormity of the event, and is something we might never see happen again.
Proctor as stated in the graphic that was posted as part of his Tweet is the highest rated recruit to commit to Iowa in ranking-era history, which dates back about two decades.
He has all the makings to be a star for the Hawkeyes, but it still has to happen because being a five-star recruit doesn’t guarantee stardom at the next level.
Location, obviously, was a big factor in Iowa landing Proctor and Nwankpa, but Iowa isn’t the only Power Five program in the state.
Iowa State’s campus is even closer to Proctor’s home than the Iowa campus, and the Cyclones are also on the rise under head coach Matt Campbell.
But in the cases of Proctor and Nwankpa, Iowa State wasn’t much of a factor.
Iowa seems to have made some serious inroads from a trust and relationship standpoint with the folks at Southeast Polk and that’s part of what it takes to win recruiting battles.