THOMSON, Ga. (WJBF) — John Atkins’ name will forever be linked with one of the all-time great teams at the University of Georgia.
The Bulldogs won 13 games for only the second time in program history. They were Southeastern Conference champions for the first time since 2005. The Dawgs won the Rose Bowl, and they competed for their first national championship in more than three decades.
“[Those accomplishments] hadn’t been done in a while, and us doing it and setting the standard and culture for years to come on how a defense should play and how a total team should play, it’s big,” Atkins said. “Down the road [I’m] going to be with some guys on the team, and [we will] talk about that.”
Atkins anchored the defensive line for one of the best defenses in college football this season. As the starting nose tackle, he rarely received recognition, but his ability to eat space and take on blocks allowed the Dawgs to be a top ten defense in the country.
“Being a nose guard on a defense like ours, a stingy defense, [I] take pride in it,” Atkins said. “During the season, I didn’t take much pride in it because it was what I was supposed to do, but looking back on it I take a lot of pride [in it].”
Following the season, Atkins received an invitation to workout at the NFL combine, a dream come true for a kid from Thomson, Georgia.
“My name being in the mix of some of the best defensive lineman is big,” Atkins said. “If you would have asked me four years ago [about the possibility of being drafted] I probably would have said yeah, but I wouldn’t have been as sure as I am now because it’s here now. I’m ready. It’s a dream come true.”
The NFL combine begins Friday, March 2 in Indianapolis, Ind. Atkins is scheduled to workout with the defensive tackles on Saturday, March 4. He then plans to workout at Georgia’s pro day in Athens later in March. The NFL draft begins Thursday, April 26.