Atkins likes getting down and dirty

Brandon Sudge, Staff
GA Varsity

UGA Sports Communications

John Atkins does plenty of work as he stands in the middle of ten defensive teammates, but doesn’t get too much credit.

Rather than collecting a heap of tackles like his counterpart Trenton Thompson or linebackers Roquan Smith and Natrez Patrick, Atkins’ main purpose is to “clean up” a play.

Atkins has seen his playing time gradually increase throughout his Georgia career, but the statistical totals don’t pop out. Simply, he doesn’t mind.

“Somebody has to do it,” Atkins said. “Not everyone can do it, so someone has to. I like it.”

Atkins has plenty of experience in doing the extra work. He was the youngest of five children, and had to do a number of chores like taking out the trash in his Augusta-area home.

It carries on both on-and-off the field. Atkins is a greeter at Heyward Allen Toyota in Athens and is tasked with caring for his young son, John Jr.

“I’m selfless,” Atkins said. “It comes with the territory.”

At Georgia, he role of the 308-pound senior is seen by those that are responsible for collecting the stats. It would be much more difficult for the Bulldogs’ defense if Atkins didn’t display his style of play.

“I love it,” Patrick said. “He cleans up a lot of things for me and makes my job easier. Whether it’s riding blocks, or standing certain blocks, he makes it way easier. I couldn’t do what those guys do.”

While not collecting many tackles, Atkins has made his veteran presence known and is getting plenty of playing time -- most recently seeing action on 46 percent of the Bulldogs’ defensive snaps against Notre Dame within a unit that rotates frequently.

Georgia’s defensive line uses a chain to symbolize togetherness within the unit, despite a player’s role or statistical success. Atkins personifies it as he collected three tackles in each of the Bulldogs’ first two games. While he thinks he may have left some plays on the field, Atkins is aware that it would be outside of the defense’s scheme if he were to hunt for tackles.

As a senior, Atkins is more cognizant of his role and how he can best help the team.

“I have always had confidence,” Atkins said. “But as a senior with that extra year of experience, I can look at more things from the top.”

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