Josh Proctor is returning to Ohio State for a sixth year.
The Buckeye safety will use the additional year of eligibility provided by the NCAA to all college athletes in 2020 to play another season for Ohio State, safeties coach Perry Eliano told the Columbus Dispatch on Friday.
“Super excited about Josh returning!” Eliano told the Dispatch in a text message. “He’s a great teammate, phenomenal athlete, and there are TEAM and individual goals that he wants to accomplish with his brothers!”
Proctor told Eleven Warriors prior to the Peach Bowl that he felt like he would have been ready to play in the NFL if he had chosen to enter the 2023 NFL draft, but said he would make a decision following the season after talking things over with his family.
“There's pros and cons to everything. And that's a conversation I’ll have with my parents, as far as just sitting back and learning and making sure I'm ready, if that were my choice,” Proctor said.
Proctor is returning to the Buckeyes after a 2022 season in which he began the year as Ohio State’s starting strong safety but lost that job after giving up a 54-yard catch to Lorenzo Styles Jr. on the Buckeyes' opening defensive play of the season against Notre Dame. Lathan Ransom replaced Proctor on the game’s second defensive series and never relinquished the starting job for the rest of the year, and Proctor played only 195 defensive snaps for the season as a result.
He acknowledged he thought he would play more this past season while speaking with Eleven Warriors during Ohio State’s Peach Bowl media day, but said he tried to keep his focus on helping the team however he could.
“It's hard for anybody, but I don't even think of it like that,” Proctor said. “This is a brotherhood. I trust everybody that's out there on the field. I don't have any problem. I just do my job wherever I can.”
He’ll have a chance to earn his way back into the starting lineup this offseason as the Buckeyes have two starting safeties to replace with the departures of Ronnie Hickman and Tanner McCalister. While Ransom is returning, he could potentially move to free safety to replace Hickman, which could open up the starting strong safety job to Proctor – though sophomores Sonny Styles and Kye Stokes are also expected to compete for starting jobs along with incoming transfer Ja’Had Carter (the likely frontrunner to start at nickel safety) and redshirt juniors Cameron Martinez and Kourt Williams.
Proctor is one of three Ohio State players who are now confirmed to be returning to the Buckeyes for a sixth year in 2023 along with wide receiver/running back Xavier Johnson and offensive lineman Matt Jones. Two other Buckeyes who could still potentially return for an additional year of eligibility, defensive end Tyler Friday and linebacker Palaie Gaoteote, have not made any announcement as to whether they will be back at Ohio State in 2023, though they have until Feb. 3 to withdraw their name from the NFL draft if they choose to play a sixth year of college football.