The Ohio State football team is hoping for Josh Proctor to improve and be a great safety in 2021.
We got spoiled, Buckeye fans. For forty games we had Jordan Fuller locking down the backend of the Ohio State defense. He was so good and steady you almost forgot he was there until the Buckeyes needed him to make a play. Jordan Fuller was a luxury. Well, he moved onto the Rams where he started twelve games as a rookie last fall, and the Buckeyes, um, let’s just say struggled at safety for much of the season.
Heading into 2020 it was thought Josh Proctor would take over Fuller, but it was decided Proctor was better suited for man-to-man coverage. He was used mostly in passing situations as a nickel back covering inside receivers, while Marcus Hooker was installed as Fuller’s replacement. Hooker was inconsistent, to say the least. Actually, he was a complete disaster at times.
In the time leading up to the Big Ten championship game, Hooker suffered an injury. Proctor was moved into the position. While he may not have been spectacular, he certainly played well enough. Against Northwestern in that conference championship, he had four tackles and an interception.
The Owasso, Oklahoma native had just one tackle against Clemson but broke up a pass as well. He finished his 2020 season with a five tackle performance against Alabama in the national championship. He ended last year with twenty tackles, but most importantly he gave the Buckeyes someone reliable on the back end.
The Ohio State football team needs Proctor to be more consistent
Proctor had been asked to learn all of the secondary positions during his first few years with the Buckeyes. Being able to concentrate on just one position this spring helped him become very comfortable and sure of himself. Proctor admits to getting too excited at times and overthinking but feels he’s overcome that now.
Focusing on consistency is something Proctor said he will continue to do. He gave the Buckeyes a lift when he took over at safety in 2020, but the defense will need more from him this season. Proctor needs to become a force. Someone who receivers fear and makes a quarterback think twice about trying to throw over the middle.
He needs to more often be the guy who blew up Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan at the end of the 2019 Big Ten championship game and not the one who whiffed on Trevor Lawrence in the open field as the Clemson quarterback took off on a 67-yard touchdown run.
If Proctor can find that Jordan Fuller-like consistency and become a stabilizing influence at safety, it is going to go a long way towards improving the Ohio State defense.