New Ravens wide receiver James Proche is looking forward to learning how to establish himself as a player in Baltimore with the help of Ravens coaching analyst and longtime friend Zach Orr.
Proche grew up in the Dallas area playing football with Orr’s younger brothers, Nick and Chris, and the three went on to attend DeSoto High School together. Zach, a linebacker for the Ravens from 2014-2016, is now a defensive coaching analyst for Baltimore and will be able to offer Proche some guidance.
“Zach’s like a big brother to me,” Proche said on Glenn Clark Radio April 29, adding that “to have family in Baltimore and somebody I can go to as a big brother and seek knowledge, wisdom and apply it to my daily life, I’d be an idiot not to seek knowledge from him.”
After graduating from DeSoto High, Proche attended SMU, while Chris went to Wisconsin and Nick opted to go to TCU. Chris recently signed as an undrafted free agent with the Carolina Panthers, while Nick spent training camp with the Chicago Bears in 2018.
Proche played at SMU from 2015-2019, redshirting as a freshman. He finished his career with the Mustangs with 3,949 receiving yards and 39 touchdowns (and 13 yards per catch). He also averaged 19.8 yards per kick return for his career. He had his best year as a punt returner in 2019, averaging 9.6 yards per return.
Proche says he wants to learn how to be a true professional in Baltimore, following in the footsteps of retired greats like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Steve Smith Sr.
“I feel like I’m going to learn how to be a pro,” Proche said. “That’s what I’m most excited about. To learn how to establish myself, establish my routine and get to talk to guys like Ray Lewis and Anquan Boldin and just get wisdom from them. I feel like all those guys are pros’ pros that come to the Ravens.”
Being able to learn from people who paved the way has always been a big deal for Proche, and he has always prioritized family. One of the people he’s long looked up to is Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive back Deion Sanders, who played 14 seasons in the NFL (and two with the Ravens).
Sanders co-founded Prime Prep Academy in Texas in 2012. Proche spent his sophomore and junior years there, but finished his high school career at DeSoto after Prime Prep closed. Proche says he owes a lot to Sanders.
“Deion was like a father figure, uncle, coach, whatever hat I needed him to wear he did,” Proche said. “I learned so much about being a pro. I did a lot of things wrong. He taught me about being emotionally mature at a young age. He gave me a lot of wisdom from trying to be the guy and how to handle everything. I owe a lot to him. I fell in love with football around that time.”
Now, Proche will lean on Sanders and Orr to help him as he begins his NFL journey. The Ravens’ receiving corps features veterans Willie Snead and De’Anthony Thomas and promising second-year players Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Miles Boykin. But with no 1,000-yard receivers in that group, Proche should get a chance to slot right in and find a role.
Proche, who has a reputation for having great hands, says he’s a “perfectionist.” Repetition is how he became so good at catching the ball.
“It’s like somebody who plays the piano all the time. They’re going to get better at it,” Proche said. “It’s repetition, day in and day out catching the ball all the time. I can remember when I was 4 years old, there was a teacher named Ms. Rochelle when I used to live in Detroit. She would come in class every day and throw an orange to me and I would catch it every day.”
As for translating those skills to the Ravens’ offense, Proche says he’s just going to do his part.
“I’m just going to adapt and adjust and try to get in where I fit in,” Proche said. “They’re already good so I just want to come in and do my part and try to make everything better.”
For more from Proche, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Vladimir Cherry/SMU Athletics