Focused on and off the field
D-I recruits Proctor, Burns ready to fuel Lackey defense in 2016
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.
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.