John Atkins, 6'4 300lb DL from Thomson, GA is the next Bulldogs signee we are going to take a look at. Atkins attended high school at Thomson where he was coached by Milan Turner. John was named to the SuperPrep All-Dixie Team and participated in the 2012 Under Armor All-American Game. He signed with the Georgia Bulldogs in 2012 but failed to qualify and was forced to go the PREP School route and attended Hargrave for a semester.
Atkins finished with a 4-star rating by ESPN (11th DT, 119th overall) and 247sports (17th DT), while finishing a 3-star by Rivals (40th DT) and Scout (23rd DT). The talented DT was expected to enroll early at UGA but after receiving his grades he was not cleared to enroll by NCAA Clearinghouse. When he arrived back at Hargrave to begin his second semester someone noticed that one of his grades from the prior semester was not reported correctly and when it was submitted the NCAA Clearinghouse cleared him to move on. He has now enrolled at the University of Georgia and was a part of the 2013 Georgia signing class and 1 of 13 early enrollees.
As a senior in high school, Atkins picked the Georgia Bulldogs over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, and Clemson just to name a few. Atkins will still have all eligibility remaining and his arrival in 2013 works out a lot better than his arrival would have been in 2012. When he committed and signed in 2012, Atkins was looking at a redshirt year more than likely due to the Bulldogs already having John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers. Now Atkins has enrolled early, already learning the defense and working out with the team, participating in Spring practice, and the depth chart is not as full in front of him. Atkins certainly has a great chance to play early and often for the Bulldogs on the defensive line.
While evaluating Atkins in high school I came away very impressed with the athleticism John has. In high school he spent majority of his time at tight end and right tackle and he was a very good one. After his junior season he was named to the 1st team All-CSRA and Region 3-AAA Team as a tight end. At that time, Atkins was in the 290lb range. Below is some highlights of his athletic ability at that position.
Atkins is expected to play defensive end or nose guard in UGA's 3-4 scheme. He has the strength to make a push from the NG position, while also having the speed, quickness, and athleticism to rush the passer at DE. Atkins plays very physical and attacks with a great pad level. He has big, strong hands that will allow him to shed blockers to get up field. He has an initial quick first step that will allow him to attack centers and guards quickly. It will be interesting to see how quickly Atkins learns the playbook and how quickly he makes an impact in Athens.
Atkins has a chance to have a great career for the Bulldogs but he will need to fully learn the defensive line position to get there. He has spent time at OG, TE, and DL but has not taken a large amount of snaps throughout his career on the defensive side of the ball. Once he fully learns the positions and works on a few techniques I believe Mr. Atkins could be a dominant defensive lineman in the SEC.
PREDICTION: In 2013 I believe Atkins begin in a backup role at defensive end or nose guard. New defensive line coach Chris Wilson loves to rotate guys in and out to keep the big men fresh so Atkins will have an early opportunity to show what he is made of in 2013. I look forward to the spring game and seeing Atkins in action.
COMPARISON: Mixture of Geno Atkins/DeMarcus Dobbs
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