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OU football: 'They become like your own kid' — R.J. Proctor finds family while playing away from home

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R.J. Proctor

Redshirt senior offensive lineman R.J. Proctor stands next to Maryde Bedenbaugh, wife of offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh, as he is recognized during senior night before the game against TCU Nov. 23.

On senior night, right before then-No. 9 Oklahoma's 28-24 win over TCU, the Sooner seniors stood next to family and friends as they each held a framed jersey of their number. 

Parents stood on the sides of their kids who would play their last game in Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. In the case of redshirt senior R.J. Proctor, his family was over a thousand miles away in his hometown of Bealeton, Virginia.

But Proctor still had someone to stand by his side. 

Maryde Bedenbaugh, wife of Oklahoma offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh, took to the field with Proctor and stood to the left of him as the Virginia transfer stood behind his framed No. 73 Oklahoma jersey.

Rosalind Proctor, his mother, and his family weren't able to make the trip to Norman. She and the family have made it to numerous games throughout the season, and they plan on making the Big 12 Championship on Dec. 7.

"He’s almost 22 now, and you still worry about them being away from home," Rosalind said. "It was just really good to see that he had someone that he could count on. It was a pretty important event that he would have someone that would be able to support him. It was really good to see that."

Proctor committed to the Sooners back in March after playing in 11 games and making six starts for the Virginia Cavaliers. Since then, Proctor has formed a strong, family-like bond with Bedenbaugh and the program.

"That's one of the things I think a lot of people don't realize," Bedenbaugh said. "When you recruit these guys, they become like your own kid. And they really do ... I'm around these dudes more than my own kids and my own family, so they become like that."

"His family couldn't make it. (Maryde) wanted to go out there with him."

Proctor was only two hours away from home when he was at Virginia. That distance increased drastically this season, and his mother said seeing someone support Proctor when she's not able to be there is something special.

"It just really warms my heart that they would do something like that,” Rosalind said. “(Coming to OU) was really an opportunity for him to stretch his wings a little bit and actually get away from home and really grow into a more independent person.”

The 6-foot-4, 335-pound lineman has played in nine contests this season, starting in the Sooners' season-opening win over Houston and the win over TCU Saturday night. He's played at left tackle to replace redshirt junior Erik Swenson, who's struggled to stay healthy on an already volatile line.

Injuries to Swenson and redshirt sophomores Adrian Ealy and Marquis Hayes gave Bedenbaugh a challenge to start the season, as the assistant coach had to work with five different starting lineups in the Sooners' first five games. Proctor and a group of younger faces have stepped up in their absence on multiple occasions.

"I'm really, really proud of him. It's not an easy situation for a kid to come into," Bedenbaugh said. "You're a grad transfer, and we obviously needed help, and we were hoping that he would be a starter for us and he has. We're very, very fortunate to have him, especially with the injuries that we've had up to this point."

Proctor earned a degree in psychology at Virginia, and he is working toward his master's degree in human relations at Oklahoma.

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Caleb McCourry is the assistant sports editor at The Daily and is a junior at OU majoring in English. He's covered football, basketball and volleyball. 

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