By Jeffery Armstrong
Morrow senior track standout Michael Proctor is used to working hard, going from an ordinary runner as a freshman to a county record holder by his senior year. Now he will have to work even harder to compete at the next level.
Proctor signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Georgia, which of course is in the Southeastern Conference, a conference that is very tough in track and field.
He had offers from Clemson and Albany State, but he chose to go to Georgia.
"I feel good to get the opportunity to compete in the SEC, the hardest conference for track," Proctor said. "Georgia has a very nice campus and the coaching staff was pretty nice to me. They were looking at me more than any other school and I've heard that UGA really takes care of their athletes."
Proctor might be the athlete who can take care of the competition in the SEC. According to Morrow head track and field coach Sam Pennypacker, Proctor's best time in the 300-meter hurdles (a record 38.38 in the county track meet) is tops in Class AAAAA this year and Proctor is No. 2 in the state in Class AAAAA in the 400-meters (he ran a record 47.91 in the county meet), behind Justin Oliver of Redan High.
"Michael's a perfect example of someone who put in the work, took it seriously and now gets the reward for all of it," Pennypacker said. "He's an outstanding kid; his conduct is exemplary on and off the track and he doesn't showboat. He runs his race and leaves the track."
Pennypacker said Proctor's competition level in high school propelled him to achieve the heights he reached as a senior. In fact, Pennypacker is very proud of Proctor's efforts in the 300-meter hurdles, especially since this is the first year he's competed in that event.
"Michael's had good people to train with in practice over the years, especially in the 400 meters. Guys like Lawrence Jackson (who's 400-meter record he broke) and others have really pushed him to become the runner he is right now," said Pennypacker.
Proctor feels he's in a groove right now, but he doesn't expect to come in to Georgia and dominate - he just wants to work hard at running better and keeping his times down.
"Every year, I just want to see improvement. By the time I become a junior and senior, I'd like to be at the top of my game," said Proctor, who sports a 3.75 grade point average at Morrow.
Proctor's mother Karen was pleased to see Michael receive a full track scholarship.
"I'm a very proud parent; Michael's come a long way in a short time," Karen said. "I like Georgia's campus and I met the coaching staff and they really were interested in him. They followed his meets and kept in touch with him for a long time."
Karen felt that Michael running summer track has helped him become better at high school track.
"He's run with the best in high school and in the summer so he's had to work harder to compete," she said.
Proctor's stepfather Dwayne Hunter said Michael's signing is a great accomplishment.
"He's worked hard in the classroom and on the track and it's nice to see Georgia recognize his achievements," said Hunter.