Kadyn Proctor explains commitment flip from Iowa to Alabama: 'I felt like I was settling'

Tommy Birch
Hawk Central

At 7 a.m. Wednesday, over an hour and a half before his signing day ceremony at Southeast Polk High School, Kadyn Proctor gathered with his mother and stepdad in their Altoona home to quietly but officially take the next step in his football career.

The letter of intent papers for Alabama arrived in the mail Tuesday. Proctor signed them, snapped some photos and fired off some texts to members of the coaching staff to let them know his commitment was a done deal.

 “Then, I’m not going to lie, I went back to bed,” Proctor said with a smile.

Southeast Polk senior Kadyn Proctor sits for a photo with his family Wednesday after signing his letter of intent to play at Alabama during a signing day ceremony at Southeast Polk High School.

Proctor could finally breathe a sigh of relief. The high school football star, one of the most coveted players in the nation, was now a part of the Crimson Tide program. The signature, the snapshots and the symbolic ceremony that took place later in the morning in front of friends, family and teammates in the Southeast Polk auditorium ended an eventful recruitment of the star offensive tackle.

“It’s been somewhat stressful,” his mother, Sarah Proctor-Perkins, said of the last few days.

It's been a wild ride for the 6-foot-7, 330-pound offensive lineman, who has long been heralded as one of the top players in the state and nation. He drew scholarship offers from seemingly all the big names, including Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Alabama, Oregon and Ole Miss.

Proctor, listed by 247Sports as a five-star recruit and the nation’s top offensive tackle, committed to Iowa back in June. He was viewed as a Day 1 starter and the biggest name in the Hawkeyes' 2023 recruiting class.

That didn’t stop teams from trying to change Proctor's mind. NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, who recently took over the Colorado job, offered him a scholarship. Oregon was on hand to watch Proctor guide Southeast Polk to its second-straight state football title in November. Alabama coach Nick Saban visited him on one of the first days he could see recruits.

Proctor visited Alabama this past weekend and was finally swayed to flip his commitment and join the Crimson Tide.

“When I went down there and got to see everything that was laid out for me, I just thought it was a better opportunity for me,” Proctor said.

Here’s a look at some of the other major storylines surrounding Proctor’s change of heart.  

Southeast Polk's Kadyn Proctor (74) plays against Cedar Rapids Prairie on Oct. 7 in Pleasant Hill.

Did NIL play a role in Proctor's decision to flip his commitment? He says no

Proctor’s commitment to Alabama came amid speculation of a lucrative NIL (name-image-likeness) deal the school put together to woo him. He said Wednesday that’s not what convinced him to flip his commitment to Alabama. He said it was about the resources Alabama had and the opportunities that playing for the Crimson Tide provided.

“It’s not about the money because if people knew about the money situation, they wouldn’t be talking about it,” Proctor said. “But I wanted to go play football at a prestigious school. (There’s) a lot of competition down there and ultimately it’s going to make me better.”

Proctor conceded there was money involved, but he wouldn’t say how much Alabama was willing to shell out in NIL dollars to secure his services. Proctor's mother was adamant that things like dorms, team doctors and facilities played a bigger role in his decision to switch his commitment. She said her son was also swayed by the opportunity to play with athletes of his size right out of the gate and help him get to the NFL.

Proctor said Iowa was willing to pony up.

“I’m not getting paid that much (more) as Iowa was going to give me,” he said. “People didn’t know that. But everybody has opinions.”

Proctor says he would have been 'settling' by staying at Iowa

Proctor said he informed Iowa’s coaching staff of his decision to decommit last week and hinted he had been mulling it over for a bit. He admitted that Iowa’s offensive struggles the last couple of years were part of his thought process but didn’t play a major role. In fact, he liked the idea of coming in and helping change a program. But he figured playing at Alabama could tap into more of his potential.

“I thought I was settling at Iowa and when I went down there (Alabama), I saw all the guys that are as big as me and have the same mindset as me and worked like me," he said. "That’s just what I wanted to do. I don’t want to come into this school and everybody thinks I’m one of the best players there already. I want to grow. That’s not how I grow. I’ve got to get hit in the mouth before I can grow. And I think getting hit in the mouth is the competition (I need)."

During the weekend visit to Alabama, Proctor met with Saban, hung out with some players and watched the Crimson Tide practice for its Sugar Bowl matchup with Kansas State. When he got back to his hotel room Saturday night, he told his mom he wanted to play at Alabama.

“He was all about going to Iowa and I just thought, ‘Are you sure? Are you sure?’” Proctor-Perkins said. “It kind of shocked me.”

Southeast Polk senior Kadyn Proctor takes a photo with his family after signing his letters of intent to the University of Alabama on National College Signing Day for football in the auditorium of Southeast Polk High School on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022.

The fallout from Proctor's late commitment swap generates social buzz and backlash

Proctor committed to Saban on Sunday. Word started getting out early in the week that Proctor was potentially flipping to Alabama. The fallout brought loads of criticism as people took to social media to bash the decision. Proctor’s announcement on Twitter on Tuesday was met with a barrage of negativity from people who questioned his loyalty and motives.

“It made me feel bad a little bit but I can’t tune in to that stuff,” he said. “It’s just mind-blowing that 40-year-olds, 50-year-olds are calling me the p-word and saying ‘F-you,’ I’m going to hell and stuff like that. It’s just crazy to hear. But I don’t give in to that stuff because if they were truly an Iowa fan, then they wouldn’t have been talking about that and they would have been happy for me to be going to Alabama and representing the state.”