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Ohio State: Special-teams role sets Josh Proctor up for future success

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Ohio State safety Josh Proctor is looking to expand on his role next season for the Buckeyes. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football

Ohio State: Special-teams role sets Josh Proctor up for future success

The stats aren’t exactly the hallmarks of freshman lore at Ohio State.

Ten games played, one tackle.

Josh Proctor doesn’t mind. Ohio State’s freshman safety is fine delivering on the practice field, day in and day out, until he attains a greater role in the secondary.

“It’s very valuable, because we give the older guys a look that play in the game,” Proctor told Lettermen Row. “So, we’ve got to come with it so that they can come with it.”

Sometimes such seemingly simple tasks are easier as a trite quote than being implemented by a prized recruit such as Proctor, the 6-foot-2, 198-pound safety with the U.S. Army All-American Bowl pedigree.

That’s where Proctor tries to emulate the example of the Ohio State veterans as they prepare for the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl against Pac-12 champion Washington.

“It’s very valuable. Coach [Urban] Meyer, he always talks about it if you want to play here you’ve got to make your name on special teams,” Proctor said. “So us seeing them still doing it to this day, it gives us a boost of confidence.

“Like, we’ve got to go do it, we’ve got to step up if our name is called.”

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Ohio State defensive backs Josh Proctor and Sevyn Banks celebrated a Big Ten title as freshmen. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Stepping up to answer the call on special teams is when Proctor believes his debut campaign changed from disappointment to accepting a role. He also touts the off-the-field presence of the Ohio State elders.

“I’d say when they threw me in on special teams, that’s when I started to get the feel for it,” said Proctor, whose lone tackle this season came in the shootout-win against Nebraska. “I don’t know, it just felt like … I don’t know just felt good.

“I think just adjusting to everything. I didn’t catch on as fast as I thought I would, but they really helped me out and I appreciate them for that. I needed it.”

Now that the Buckeyes are in bowl preparations trying to ensure Meyer closes his tenure in Columbus with one more victory, Proctor is trying to help ensure they use the challenges of this season for a springboard into their future under coach-in-waiting Ryan Day.

“It means a lot to me. It’s been a bumpy year; it’s a good way to go out,” Proctor said. “I love this team and I love playing with them.

“There’s nothing we haven’t went through, no challenge we can’t overcome. So we just keep working and keep pushing.”

Proctor’s mature outlook, he explains, is the result of the veterans’ aide in helping Proctor overcome a turbulent adjustment to the college game after signing early with the Buckeyes.

“Just one step at a time. When it seems like everything’s going bad, there’s always an open door at the end of the tunnel,” Proctor said. “So we just keep working and keep pushing.

“I mean, I was going through a tough time when I first got here. But they really just stayed on me and kept me up. I really look up to them.”

Soon enough, Proctor is going to have the opportunity to be the leader that the next wave of Ohio State can try to model.

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Jim Bethel
Jim Bethel

This is part of the genius of Urban Meyer. He builds the culture by building leaders who become big brothers to the incoming young guys. This culture works in any organization. Building boys into young men who become grown men who are champions. I believe he will succeed Gene Smith as AD and spread the philosophy and technique. Gene Smith has and continues to build a tremendous athletic program. Urban will continue the process. Excellent article. It is wonderful to see a young person realize that hard work and commitment to the team is the foundation to long-term success.

John Brice

With more than 20 years’ experience, John Brice is an award-winning journalist and former sideline reporter who primarily has covered SEC athletics, including a lengthy stint on the University of Tennessee beat.

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