With 6 of the 13 early enrollees discussed, we move past the half way point with the other defensive lineman, John Atkins. The former star goalkeeper (hooray soccer!) for Thomson High spent this past fall getting his academics in order, and fine tuning his game, at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia. He talked about that this past August with the guys from 24/7, as you can see here.
As the big man says, spending time at one of the military prep schools is often a very beneficial experience. They often improve time management skills which are needed to work in all the obligations a major student-athlete will have at Georgia. He improved his academics quickly to allow enrolling this semester, which is a good sign. And he spent a season, without using any eligibility, competing against other future SEC and major college players, such as past and future teammate, OLB commit Leonard Floyd.
That time was well needed, as you can see from a video shown below from a scrimmage against Lincoln County prior to his senior season at Thomson.
What you see is obviously a big boy. Listed 6'4, 310, Atkins has the frame to step in as an immediate contributor at nose. He's got the size, and athleticism, as keeper's in soccer need to have tremendous agility, and Atkins was also a TE who showed the ability to go up and make tough catches during his junior season. The former UnderArmour All-American lined up on the offensive line in that game, and performed well at guard, so he has the ability to end up on either side of the line of scrimmage.
But he'll get his start looking to fill the shoes of John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers at nose. His time at Hargrave hopefully got him to improve his hands, and especially keep his pad level down. His clips against Lincoln County show a lack of explosion that also needs improvement. But the agility is there so he could help anywhere along the defensive front 3, which will be needed as Jenkins and Geathers, as well as ends Abry Jones and Cornelius Washington, move on to the NFL.
Atkins' experience at Hargrave will be invaluable to speed up his acclimation to SEC play, and with the need for able bodies up front, expect him to contribute this fall as a true freshman. If he can't improve his weaker points, a move to the offensive line isn't out of the question in the future, but for right now, Atkins will compete with fellow incoming DL Chris Mayes and returning redshirt freshman Jonathon Taylor to start in the critical nose position of Grantham's 3-4. Thankfully, that competition starts now, and will carry on between 3 rather large, and rather athletic individuals all spring, summer and into the fall.