Fo­cused on and off the field

D-I re­cruits Proc­tor, Burns ready to fuel Lackey de­fense in 2016

Maryland Independent - - Lackey High School - By AJ MA­SON aj­ma­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @aj­ma­son301

Re­garded as the most cov­eted NCAA Di­vi­sion I re­cruit in the South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence and third-ranked in the state by ESPN, Lackey se­nior de­fen­sive end Nate Proc­tor has been known to live in op­pos­ing back­fields with his abil­ity to fly to the ball and rush the quar­ter­back.

His fel­low se­nior team­mate, de­fen­sive end Ma­lik Burns, also a highly-touted Di­vi­sion I re­cruit, is also turn­ing heads with abil­i­ties sim­i­lar to Proc­tor’s.

The two ball-hawk­ing ends will be re­lied heav­ily by head coach John Lush to bring lead­er­ship to a Charg­ers de­fense that is re­turn­ing seven starters in 2016.

While the two fig­ure to be stand out as lead­ers on their team’s de­fense, Proc­tor and Burns have also had iden­ti­cal paths off the field. Both had to turn the cor­ner aca­dem­i­cally as un­der­class­men.

With be­low-av­er­age grades as a fresh­man, Proc­tor started to com­mit him­self in the class­room when he was a sopho­more, steadily im­prov­ing his grades by his ju­nior year with a 2.75 GPA.

Burns had a 1.81 GPA at the end of Burns sopho­more year, but with guid­ance from Proc­tor and as­sis­tance from his fel­low teach­ers he was able to move it up to 2.71.

“It was tough at first,” said Proc­tor, re­fer­ring to his aca­demics, who is be­ing re­cruited by nu­mer­ous col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties in the na­tion for out­side line­backer. “I went to sum­mer school for two years and all I knew that if I was go­ing to play at the next level, my grades had to go up. Ma­lik had to go through the same thing and I told him that it is all go­ing to fall through. He’s a very good player and I told them that if we take care of our grades, the re­cruit­ing process will take care of it­self.”

Burns said Proc­tor was in­stru­men­tal dur­ing the aca­demic process.

“He was some­one that I could look up to and he just told me to keep grind­ing and push­ing,” said Burns, who had 45 tack­les and two sacks a year ago, “so I did that and now sev­eral [D-I] of­fers has come through for me. I couldn’t have got­ten through this with­out my coaches.”

“Both of them strug­gled aca­dem­i­cally as younger stu­dent-ath­letes,” Lush said. “One of the keys to their suc­cess is the help they re­ceived from our aca­demic ad­vi­sor Laura Buzzell. That’s when they were able to turn the cor­ner.”

Af­ter miss­ing the Class 2A South Re­gion play­offs last sea­son with a record of 6-4 and a fifth-place 3-3 in SMAC’s Ch­e­sa­peake Di­vi­sion, Lackey, anchored by an ex­pe­ri­enced and fast de­fense, looks to make a dra­matic turn­around this sea­son.

“I think there is no pres­sure on us, we are work­ing hard in prac­tice and build­ing a bond,” said Proc­tor, who had 83 to­tal tack­les and six sacks to boast All-SMAC and All-County first-team hon­ors in 2015. “We are just ready to go.”

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Proc­tor has been re­cruited by over 30 Di­vi­sion I schools such as Mi­ami (Fla.), Ge­or­gia, North Carolina, Mary­land and Cal­i­for­nia.

“I think Nate and Ma­lik have the abil­ity to be re­ally dy­namic play­ers for us this sea­son,” Lush said. “In our base 3-4 pack­ages, our out­side back­ers are our most ath­letic play­ers. And with the both of them com­ing off the edge it will be in­ter­est­ing.”

Lackey will open the sea­son at home tonight ver­sus Leonard­town.

Lackey se­nior de­fen­sive end Ma­lik Burns will be one of the key cogs on a Charg­ers de­fense that will re­turn seven starters for the 2016 sea­son.

Se­nior de­fen­sive ends Nate Proc­tor, left, and Ma­lik Burns are be­ing highly re­cruited by NCAA Di­vi­sion I schools around the coun­try and will be lead­ers on a Lackey de­fense that re­turns seven starters for the 2016 sea­son.

STAFF PHOTOS BY AJ MA­SON

Se­nior de­fen­sive end Nate Proc­tor, pic­tured at right, a highly-touted NCAA Di­vi­sion I re­cruit, will be a cat­a­lyst for a Lackey de­fense that re­turns seven starters for the 2016 sea­son.

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