April 17, 2024

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Kaden Proctor expected to leave Iowa State, returns to transfer portal: What his potential return to Alabama means

Kaden Proctor expected to leave Iowa State, returns to transfer portal: What his potential return to Alabama means

IOWA CITY, Iowa – The idea of ​​Iowa native Caden Proctor playing football at the University of Iowa was stronger than the reality.

The five-star offensive tackle, who joined the Hokies after one season at Alabama, has told Iowa State he is leaving the program, coach Kirk Ferentz said in a statement Tuesday. Iowa State opens spring football practice on Wednesday. Proctor, who went on spring break last week with several former Alabama teammates, will return to Tuscaloosa, he said.

“It is unfortunate that Caden informed us of his intention to leave our program today,” Ferentz said. “We wish him well for the future.”

As a non-graduate, Proctor cannot enter the transfer portal until April 15, giving him time to change his mind. He remains on Iowa's official roster for 2024. He is eligible to play at Alabama or Iowa this fall.

Proctor (6-foot-7, 360 pounds) grew up in Pleasant Hill, Iowa, a suburb southeast of Des Moines. He grew up as an Iowa State fan and was idolized by Tristan Wirfs, who was an All-American player at Iowa State. Proctor even wore No. 74 as Wirfs and won back-to-back state championships at Southeast Polk High School.

In 2022, Proctor was committed to Iowa from June 30 through December 19, one day before signing day. Proctor then transferred to Alabama, where he started 14 games as a true freshman at left tackle in 2023. After Alabama coach Nick Saban retired in January, Proctor entered the transfer portal.

Within a few days, Proctor identified Iowa as his most desired destination. Through a social media campaign, the Iowa Swarm Collective quickly raised more than $100,000 in two days — regardless of Proctor's intentions. Proctor attended an Iowa City men's basketball game later that week and was enrolled in the class quickly afterward.

“Home. This is where I eventually wanted to be,” Proctor said at the Iowa State men's basketball game. It's the first place I thought of when I entered the transfer portal. So I made my decision when I entered the transfer portal.”

The Iowa State staff maintained a strong relationship with Proctor despite their departure for Alabama. When Proctor struggled early at Alabama, recruiting director Tyler Barnes texted him, “Hang in there, buddy.” Proctor referred to the transcript when speaking to reporters, prompting Iowa State to report a Level 3 violation.

What does this mean for Iowa?

Proctor's potential return to Alabama is a big loss on the field for the Hawkeyes and a big gain for the Tide. Proctor is set to play left tackle at Iowa State and anchor a veteran offensive line. He started every game for Alabama there last year.

It's a second major blow for the Hawkeyes regarding Proctor and this one was probably worse than the first. Not only will Proctor not play at Iowa State, but he was on campus and chose to leave before spring football began.

In the big picture, this situation may stimulate discussions at the national level about collective bargaining and contractual obligations. Proctor has been paid through The Swarm Collective and has promoted one car dealership on social media, but has yet to train with the team. — Scott Dochterman is a writer in Iowa

How Proctor fits into Alabama

Proctor had a fair amount of struggles in Year 1 as Alabama's starting left tackle in 2023, but was trending upward by the end of the season and was expected to make a leap as Year 2 in 2024.

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His expected return to Alabama pins arguably the biggest question mark on the team: offensive tackle, as Alabama currently does not have a player who has started a varsity game. Proctor's recommitment will add plug-and-play starters alongside redshirt sophomore Elijah Pritchett as starters, while the younger pieces can continue to develop as depth pieces without pressure to play right away. Proctor's experience from a season ago: 14 starts and 792 snaps He is another welcome addition to an offensive line that features an experienced interior group in Tyler Booker and Jayden Roberts at guard and Parker Brailsford/James Brockermeyer at center.

Although Proctor is familiar with Alabama, he will need to adjust to the new system under Calen DeBoer and position coach Chris Kapilovic. There will be a greater commitment from offensive linemen to pulling blocks and blocking in space, which means Proctor, who played above 350 pounds last season, may have to shed some weight as well as learn the system. There will be plenty of time if needed, as Proctor will not be asked to play any snaps until fall camp. — Kennington Smith III, Alabama writer

Required reading

(Photo: Associated Press/Vasha Hunt)