2017-12-29-rbowlim

Oklahoma offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh is one of the primary reasons R.J. Proctor chose the Sooners when he transferred from Virginia. IAN MAULE/Tulsa World file

NORMAN — R.J. Proctor was thankful for not-hot temperatures Tuesday night.

“This Oklahoma weather is something,” said Proctor, a graduate transfer from Virginia. “(Practicing) at night is way, way better. It’s cool. At Virginia, I don’t know what it is, but here this heat is outstanding.”

OU moved its practice under the lights instead of surrendering to a 100-degree heat index Tuesday night.

The offensive line will be under a microscope this month. The Sooners must replace four starters outside of returning center Creed Humphrey.

“He’s meant a lot,” tackle Adrian Ealy said about Proctor. “He’s really going to help our O-line out a lot. Coming from Virginia, there’s a different type of standard that we have on the O-line here at Oklahoma, but I can say that he picked it up real quick.”

Proctor (6-foot-4, 337 pounds) brings experience to campus. While at Virginia, he played in 32 games, including 11 starts. In 2018, he made six starts at left guard, including every snap in the Cavaliers’ 28-0 Belk Bowl victory over South Carolina.

Proctor began exploring football options while finishing his sociology degree. As he entered the transfer portal, his coaches told him there would be plenty of opportunities for his final season.

“After the second day, I had like 20-plus offers. It was crazy. It was a humbling experience,” Proctor said. “I could basically go anywhere that I wanted to in America. It was really humbling.

“There’s only one OU.”

There were also some links between OU and Virginia. Cavaliers offensive coordinator Robert Anae used to coach at Texas Tech. Bill Bendenbaugh, the Sooners’ offensive line coach, was Anae’s graduate assistant coach. Anae also had Lincoln Riley as a player. Ruffin McNeill was Virginia’s inside linebackers coach in 2016 and Proctor was familiar with him as well.

Proctor’s decision to choose OU over Big 12 rival Texas boiled down to one factor — Bedenbaugh.

“Coach B is a legend. He’s put guys over and over and over again in the NFL. He’s a great coach. I took an official visit to Texas before here. OU is just unmatched. You don’t find a coach like Coach B and coach Lincoln,” Proctor said. “Everything just fell in place and it was just perfect.”

Riley was asked about Proctor after the Sooners’ first practice last Saturday.

“He gives us some position flexibility, both his mind, how smart he is, also his athleticism,” Riley said. “We need to get him in pads. But we’re hopeful right now that he could provide depth, even if he is a starter, and could provide depth at other positions.”

Proctor said he is working out at both guard spots. He also is getting looks at tackle.

“I’m down to play whatever position I need to. I’m taking snaps after practice. I jumped in at tackle during practice and got some sets in and worked some pass pro. I’m mostly doing left and right guard,” Proctor said. “Like I said, I’m versatile, I’ll do whatever Coach wants me to do. Right now, I’m just trying to focus on guard and get that down pat. The playbook is pretty complex, but … there’s a lot of things that intertwine between Virginia’s playbook and here. It’s good to be able to transition easily.”

He also has leaned on Humphrey, the redshirt sophomore who started 12 games last season.

“It’s a huge help that Creed, if I have a question, he knows for sure what the answer is. He’s like a coach B Jr. He definitely knows the offense. It’s good to have that,” Proctor said.

Eric Bailey

918-581-8391

eric.bailey@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @ericbaileyTW

Sports Writer

Eric covers the University of Oklahoma football and men’s basketball teams. A Haskell Indian Nations University graduate, he has been a member of the Tulsa World sports staff for 12 years. Phone: 918-581-8391