ANNAPOLIS — It didn’t matter if a dislocated elbow cost him nearly his entire senior season in high school.
Or if the guy who eventually would scribble his name throughout Navy’s record book was a year ahead of him.
Or if he would see extended playing time only a half-dozen times before his final season with the Midshipmen.
In some form or fashion, Kriss Proctor knew he eventually would make a difference in the sport of his choice.
“I always just kind of expected it,” he said. “Even in middle school, it was what I was going to do. I wouldn’t say because it was my dream but just that I was going to play college football.”
The chance to do just that has come for Proctor, Navy’s first-year starter at quarterback.
Gone is Ricky Dobbs, who was entrenched as the Mids’ man under center the last two years. Proctor was never far away, even starting three games when Dobbs was injured. Coach Ken Niumatalolo said under different conditions, Proctor probably would be far better-known than he is entering Saturday’s season opener against Delaware.
Instead, Proctor’s on-field resume is limited. He engineered a defeat of Wake Forest as a sophomore, then authored a 201-yard rushing day as Navy edged Central Michigan last year. Both were crucial victories for Navy and offered a glimpse of Proctor’s skill set - even if he soon returned to the bench.
“The thing I love about Kriss is it always bothered him,” Niumatalolo said. “Kriss wanted to play. Even though him and Ricky were good friends, I could always tell it bothered him that he wasn’t playing. But I liked that. I love that. I’m glad he wasn’t in the background with the towel and eating Reese’s cups. He wants to get out there. That, to me, is what I’m looking for in a quarterback.”
Not to mention an ideal operator of the triple option.
Proctor ran the offense four years at Big Bear High School in California, at least until injury ended his senior season after four games. Colorado, Nevada and Utah were interested in Proctor as a safety, but their interest waned after the dislocated elbow.
Proctor, as certain of his future as ever, figured he would play somewhere. In early January, Mids assistant Steve Johns called and Proctor sent along film. Within a couple of weeks, Proctor was headed to the only school recruiting him as a quarterback.
The preparation for becoming an eventual starter commenced almost immediately. Guard John Dowd recalled Proctor’s penchant for making everyone understand the importance of the next play, even if it was a second-team snap in a routine practice.
There’s also an elusiveness the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder employs to great effect in Navy’s offense.
“He might not look like the most athletic guy,” wide receiver Doug Furman said. “But he is the most athletic kid I’ve ever seen on two feet that plays Navy football. He does stuff that I don’t think has ever been done here before. He makes a defensive back look like he’s never played football with the jukes he makes.”
There’s more that distinguished Proctor, including a penchant for weight-room work Niumatalolo believes is unusual for a quarterback. It was Proctor who rounded up teammates for seven-on-seven work during the summer, sometimes driving over to collect players who might otherwise have taken a day off.
In the huddle, Proctor is boisterous and purposeful - “You just have this feeling when you’re playing with him that something’s going to happen, something’s going to break,” Dowd said - simultaneously offering a mix of what might be expected from both a Californian and a quarterback.
“Kriss is Cali swag - a little bit laid-back, but he’s got a lot of fire in him,” fullback Alexander Teich said. “I know people haven’t gotten to see the fire, but if you’ve watched him play, he’s a kid who’s always vocal and always getting after it. Him not being in that starting role before, it didn’t really allow him to do that.”
Until now, anyway. Navy enters the fall in the curious position of knowing exactly what it has in a quarterback with only a few career starts. The Mids split reps evenly during practice, giving backups more work than in most programs.
One presumed shortcoming entering the spring was Proctor’s passing ability. Since then, though, Niumatalolo has consistently praised Proctor’s throws and overall improvement.
“It’s going to be like you let a dog off his chain with Kriss,” Furman said. “Coach has been holding him back all three years. Once he gets that starting job - we saw it a couple times last year. He just took it and flew with it.”
There will be no restraints this year. The job is Proctor’s; no other quarterback on the roster has taken a snap for the Mids. He’ll play plenty of college football this season.
For Proctor, there was never doubt the time would arrive.
“For me, it’s just about opportunity,” Proctor said. “I’ve finally got it. Life is about taking advantage of those opportunities. That’s what I have in front of me, and that’s what I’m looking forward to doing.”