Death, taxes and Hawkeye fans having their hearts ripped out at the last possible moment.
The warning signs have been there for weeks as 5-star Southeast Polk offensive tackle Kadyn Proctor has taken visits to Oregon and back to Alabama. But program insiders have insisted Iowa fans should R-E-L-A-X and let the kid enjoy the process. He was solid with Iowa and had already publicly said he had multi-million dollar offers from programs when he chose the Hawkeyes the first time around. The family atmosphere, playing with his friends and being close to home were important to him - not the money.
WOW.— Scott Reister (@scottreister) July 1, 2022
"I've had schools say a quarter million a year, a million a year."#Hawkeyes 5-star commit @KadynProctor1 opens up about #NIL, telling me how collectives from other schools offered to pay him a staggering amount if he chose their program. Passed it up to stay home. @KCCINews pic.twitter.com/1ukUEzA8o1
That apparently changed over the weekend when Proctor made a return visit to Tuscaloosa. Less than a week before signing day, the superstar tackle opted to take an unofficial visit to Alabama - meaning the Crimson Tide could not foot the bill for the trip.
Again, he reportedly told the staff via his agent (yes, that’s a thing for high profile high school athletes in today’s world) that he was simply taking the trip for fun. There was nothing to worry about because he was good with what the Hawkeyes had to offer from an NIL perspective (reminder that in addition to the Swarm collective which pays out $1-2k per month to players who opt to participate in charitable work, there is also Swarm Inc which coordinates marketing deals with 3rd parties for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars annually) and most importantly, he wanted to come to Iowa because of reasons totally outside of money.
The money had been there from Alabama and Oregon and others for months and Proctor had not waivered in his commitment. He had privately reiterated his commitment to friends, Iowa coaches, players and others even as recently as the morning he departed for Tuscaloosa, but reports all along have indicated others in his circle, including his mother, have pressed for Proctor to look for the best financial package available now.
That was seen by many as a red flag while others viewed it as a non-issue given the reassurances from Proctor himself, as well as his agent. When he took the visit to Eugene, few inside the program seemed concerned as it was made clear he was simply enjoying the process, appeasing those in his circle pushing him to take the money and actually taking a bit of money (there are reports the Ducks are openly offering $100k for high end prospects at both the prep and portal level to visit).
That all changed when Proctor returned from Tuscaloosa on Sunday. The tone from insiders went from relaxed to perplexed in a matter of hours. There was little time to be frustrated as the rug was totally and completely pulled out from under coaches and those around the program.
On Tuesday, things became official.
Home away from home. Roll Tide pic.twitter.com/hE9I9dnFxo— Kadyn Proctor (@KadynProctor1) December 20, 2022
After days of speculation, and in some cases hope among fans that Iowa might still have a chance to counter the reported $2M offer from Alabama, the door has officially slammed shut. The Jeep Proctor had been driving as part of a deal with Deery Brothers in Des Moines has reportedly been returned and communication with the Iowa staff has ceased. The ship has sailed and with it the best recruit the state has ever produced.
The question now is where the Hawkeyes turn. Because Proctor had been so convincing in his insistence the money didn’t matter and Iowa was where he wanted to be, the Hawkeye staff has for months pushed off adding additional tackle prospects, telling multiple talented prospects they’re full at the position. The Hawkeyes have been active in the transfer portal at multiple positions, but until Monday had not been in contact with a single offensive lineman in the portal - likely out of fear pursuing one might send a signal to Proctor that he wasn’t poised to be a day one starter.
Now the staff is left scrambling at the last minute to fill a 6’8” 335 pound hole at tackle. Thankfully, the loss of Proctor means Iowa has hundreds of thousands, and perhaps as much as a million, dollars in NIL funds now available to pursue portal targets at the position which may be able to impact the team more in 2023 than even a 5-star prospect could have.
But any way you look at it, the loss of Kadyn Proctor is a major setback for a program that rarely lands prospects in the same stratosphere as the 5-star tackle. One player does not make or break a program, but this one certainly hurts.