Nic Harris left a 6-foot-2, 230-pound hole at strong safety after being drafted by the Buffalo Bills in April. His replacement this year will be Sam Proctor, a sophomore from Pearland, Texas, who was recruited by OU as an athlete, rather than for a specific position. After redshirting his first season with the Sooners, he saw significant time on special teams as a freshman. Now, as a starter, he’ll be counted on for much more than the 10 special teams tackles he racked up last season.
Since you played offense in high school, what did you think when the coaching staff told you that you’d be playing defense?
It wasn’t as big of an adjustment as many might think, I played a lot of defense growing up. Matter of fact, everyone in my family played defense. I was the first one to start playing offense in my family. It wasn’t as big of an adjustment as I thought, as far as being physical and tackling, the biggest thing was learning defense and learning defensive concepts.
→What did you learn in your first year on the field, after redshirting your first year here?
I just learned that the biggest thing about playing here, especially on defense, is accountability to your coaches, accountability to your teammates. They want to know that they can feel like they can trust you and that you’re responsible to carry on your assignment and make that play. And not just on the field, but off the field with how you handle yourself in the classroom.
→How much of that came from Nic Harris, who you’ll replace this year?
I honestly believe he led by example in the community. He graduated, his grades were always where they were supposed to be. So Nic definitely set the example for young guys like myself, watching him last year, seeing how he handled himself on and off the field.
→How much did playing offense help when you switched, knowing what offensive players didn’t like safeties to do?
I actually played quarterback, so the looking off the safety, some of the drops, a three-step drop is usually going to be a quicker pass.