Navy's Proctor ready to be prototypical option quarterback

— As he was trying to get on Navy's recruiting radar five years ago, Kriss Proctor failed to convince a major skeptic that going to the academy was the right move.

When Sandie Proctor refused to send her younger son's highlight tape out to the coaches in Annapolis, Kriss Proctor snuck one in the mail to Navy defensive end Matt Nechak, a family friend and fellow Southern Californian.

Even during her son's recruiting visit, Proctor's mother was steadfast, despite his insistence on playing for the Midshipmen and commiting to at least five years in the military after graduation.

"It was a whirlwind and he said, 'Mom, I'm going to take the offer' and I said ,'No, you're not, we haven't finished all the appointments with the other schools,' " Sandie Proctor recalled. "Kriss said that coach (Ken) Niumatalolo said he had to take it or it was going to go to someone else and that worried Kriss. I said, 'If it's meant to be it's meant to be.' "

With Proctor now Navy's starting quarterback heading into the 2011 season opener Saturday against Delaware, it was obviously meant to be.

Niumatalolo wound up giving Proctor time to convince his mother, who said last week that her reluctance stemmed in part from the fact that her own father had been a prisoner of war for 18 months after being captured by the Nazis during World War II.

Once he arrived at the academy, Proctor also had to convince Niumatalolo and offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper that he was capable of taking control of the team's vaunted triple option. Proctor didn't even dress for road games as a plebe, then played behind Ricky Dobbs the past two seasons.

"I think it kind of fueled my fire," Proctor said of his first year at Navy. "You come out of high school and you're the man and you come here and you're nobody. It just puts things in perspective and it makes you work harder."

The first lefthanded quarterback to run the triple option since former coach Paul Johnson brought it to Navy in 2002, Proctor played in eight games last season, starting three and winning two. In a 38-37 win over Central Michigan, Proctor rushed 20 times for 201 yards and a touchdown.

Asked if he has watched a tape of that game to boost his confidence, Proctor said, "I don't feel like I have to reassure myself of my talents, I know what I've got. I don't think I have to prove to other people what I have because I know what I have."

Said Jasper, "The big thing is that he has experience. He's battle-tested. He's been there. As a coordinator, it's good to have a guy like that because you don't have to cover for him, you can call plays that he can execute, open the playbook and let the kid play."

Proctor, who was recruited as a safety by Nevada and invited to be a walk-on at Stanford, spent much of his first year at the academy watching old tapes — working his way from Dobbs to Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada and all the way back to Craig Candeto, who quarterbacked the Midshipmen in Johnson's first season.

"I've watched every game of almost every quarterback," Proctor said. "Obviously, I looked at Kaipo running the offense. The guy was just fluid, he picked up things that a lot of option quarterbacks didn't pick up, the kind of things that defenders do that give away what kind of stunts they're doing. How much he makes it look easy — move as fast as you can but look like you're moving in slow motion."

What Proctor showed the past two years, and what he has demonstrated in practice the last three weeks, is a feel for an offense he has run since high school. He is considered closer in skills set to Kaheaku-Enhada, thought by most to be Navy's best option quarterback, than he is to Dobbs, who succeeded more with his bullish strength and better-than-average arm.

"The thing that Kaipo had, he was coached in this exact same offense," Jasper said. "He knew all the ins and outs, he knew what our base plays were, he had a major advantage. From that standpoint, Kaipo was on another level. As far as option football, as far as making reads and having good instincts, Kriss has that and hopefully we will be more effective this season."

Given the fact that he has thrown only nine passes — completing four for 60 yards — Proctor will spend more time using his legs than his arm. But he has surprised some at practice with his arm strength and accuracy.

"As a quarterback, if someone is questioning your arm strength, they're going to work on it because of their pride and wanting to prove people wrong," Jasper, a former option quarterback at Hawaii, said. "Usually that happens. The same thing with Kaipo. He wasn't a great thrower, but his senior year, he threw the ball great. Hopefully the same thing happens with Kriss."

Said Proctor, "Me and Trey [Miller, the backup quarterback] worked all summer. It's just getting out here and throwing, long-tossing 20 minutes a day. That's what it took so that's what we did."

Tom Sanchez would be proud of his grandson. Sandie Proctor said that before her father died in 2009, at age 85, Sanchez had "switched allegiances" and started rooting for Navy.

"He never missed a game," said Sandie Proctor, who still flies east for every home game with her husband Kenny, a former minor league prospect for the Minnesota Twins, and their older son, Scott. "He couldn't understand why Kriss didn't start as a freshman."

Considering that Proctor had started his first high school game as a freshman — replacing his older brother, who was a junior — the thought might have crossed his mind, too, for a fleeting moment.

"Obviously as a competitor, all you want to do is be on the field and compete," Proctor said. "You're sitting on the sidelines, thinking, 'I have so much to offer this team.' Here you kind of take things in stride, you have so much going on that you take one thing at a time. All you can do is work as hard as you can. Where it gets you it gets you."

It has brought Proctor to the brink of the 2011 season and his chance to be a big part of Navy's run of eight straight years with at least eight wins.

"I think that life is what you make of your opportunities, and this is my opportunity," Proctor said. "I know this is my one shot … and I'm just going to grab it by the horns."

The hardest part was getting here in the first place.