Proctor's Legacy Will Be Determined Saturday

CLEMSON – What transpires Saturday against South Carolina will go a long way in determining how Tiger Nation feels about fifth-year senior quarterback Will Proctor.

Proctor patiently waited for three years to get his turn as starting quarterback and now that there's only one regular season game left to be played in his career, the very brief Will Proctor Era is quickly coming to a close.

On the season, Proctor has completed 147 passes in 246 attempts for 1,890 yards. He also has nine interceptions and 12 touchdowns.

Nice numbers, but not great by any stretch of the imagination.

Should the Tigers lose Saturday and Proctor struggles much as he has the last month, he will no doubt catch a lot of heat. However, should Clemson win, a lot of his spotty play in the past may be forgotten and forgiven.

All this begs the question, what is his legacy? In other words, how will history remember him?

"I think you measure a quarterback like a starting pitcher – with wins and loses," Proctor said. "We're 8-3 and I think we could have done a lot of things better. I think I could have done a lot better in the Virginia Tech game, Boston College game and the Maryland game."

It's those three loses that have forever stained his imprint on the Tigers.

Against Boston College, Proctor put up great numbers and nary a person viewed the defeat as a direct result of his play. The loss was dumped in the lap of special teams.

However, the same can't be said for losses at Virginia Tech and Maryland.

But even before that, Proctor's game against Wake Forest is what started making fans and media reexamine exactly what type of quarterback he is.

Against the Demon Deacons, Proctor completed 60 percent of his passes, but he also threw three interceptions and lost a fumble. He looked pretty bad. So much so that he described it as the worst came of his life.

Then came the trip to Blacksburg, Va., where he completed just one pass in the second half and was just 11-of-28 for 86 yards for the entire game.

He also lost a critical fumble and also threw an interception.

This might have been his worst game ever and the blame for the loss also fell squarely on his shoulders.

The Maryland game was better for Proctor, but not a lot. His numbers were decent, but his throws didn't look crisp or sharp and his deep ball still fluttered. In the first half, his play brought a chorus of boos from the Clemson stands.

Again, folks looked for a scapegoat and once again, all eyes turned to Proctor and the play of the offense.

It was enough to make the hardest of people crack.

"He was the big question mark (coming into the season)," senior center Dustin Fry said. "He was playing great earlier in the season. After Boston College and Florida State, everybody loved him. Then when we had a couple of bad games, people fell off. I think he handled it well. I don't think it got to him that much. Hopefully he just tuned it all out, which I think he has."

Fry is one of Proctor's closest friends on the team and he said Proctor never displayed any signs of being worn down by the constant outside pressure or heat.

"I'm sure he felt some pressure," Fry said. "When you're the starting quarterback, the pressure's going to be there regardless of whether you want it or not. On the surface, I think he handled it well. But you never know how he handled it when he was alone."

For his part, Proctor said he never let outside influences alter his approach or feelings toward the sport that he loves.

"The only thing I didn't like about this year was the three losses," he said. "As good as you might play or as bad as you might play, losing hurts the same. And it hurts way worse when you contribute to it as a starter then you realize it would have."

Outside those three losses, Proctor said he has no regrets and enjoyed his one year as a starting quarterback, even with being constantly put under the microscope.

"I think it's been a tremendous experience, good and bad," he said. "There's been a lot of good times and there's been a lot of tough times, especially with the two one-point losses. We had a lot of ups and downs."

Fry said Proctor will grow as a person because of what he went through at Clemson and that he'll be a much better person for it."

"I think he learned some life lessons with some things that happened," he said. "But that's good for you. I'm sure they will just help him later in life dealing with adversity."

Sadly for Proctor, all he got was this one year to display his talents. But, he said he did the best he could and that he leaves Clemson with a good feeling in his heart.

"I think it was better than I ever could have expected. It's been a lot of fun for me. My role before this year was extremely limited. I didn't realize how fun it was going to be as a starting quarterback for a major Division I team. It was a dream come true. I wish I had more time.

"I got my one year of starting and obviously I wish I had more games to play. This year has been a ton of fun for me."

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