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Notre Dame RB Atkinson III taking risky chance entering NFL

George Atkinson III, Daniel Sorensen AP

After seeing his role in the offense diminished over the course of the season and being suspended from the Pinstripe Bowl, Notre Dame running back George Atkinson III has made the decision to leave the Irish in hopes of getting a job in the NFL.

Atkinson is the third Notre Dame underclassmen to announce his decision to leave the program with a year of eligibility remaining. He joins defensive standouts Louis Nix III and Stephon Tuitt, although the two defensive players have much better odds of being picked early  in the upcoming NFL Draft. Atkinson likely would have benefitted by returning to the Irish in 2014 after rushing for 555 yards and three touchdowns. He only had one game this season with over 75 rushing yards. Atkinson was suspended from Notre Dame’s Pinstripe Bowl appearance against Rutgers for a violation of team rules. It had been reported he was texting family during a team meal.

“He look at as an opportunity,” Atkinson’s father, former Oakland Raiders great George Atkinson Jr., said in a telephone interview Wednesday with the Associated Press. ”We did our due diligence and decided to roll the dice with it.”

Notre Dame’s running game should be in decent shape in 2014 without Atkinson returning. Junior Cam McDaniel led the team in rushing this season with 704 yards. Tarean Folston should also be a significant contributor to the offense in 2014.

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6 Responses to “Notre Dame RB Atkinson III taking risky chance entering NFL”
  1. rcali says: Jan 8, 2014 8:42 PM

    Roger Goodell will be patiently waiting for you Mr. Atkinson. Tread lightly.

  2. ttalarico says: Jan 8, 2014 8:57 PM

    There must have been more to the suspension that we know. This decision doesn’t make sense.

  3. irishdodger says: Jan 8, 2014 11:40 PM

    @ttalarico: It makes sense if you look at it from a personnel aspect. While GAIII has world-class speed, he refused to evolve into a true RB by continuing to run upright in traffic. His style, such as it is, is better suited for an offense like Oregon’s. He saw the writing on the wall. At best, he was going to split carries w/ McDaniel & Folston. More likely, Greg Bryant will see a lot of action as well. That means his carries will be fewer meaning his opportunity to showcase his talents will fewer as well. He has the athletic ability to make it in the NFL but he has a lot of work to do when it comes to his running style (quit trying to break a 100 yarder on every carry) and he needs to learn to catch passes out of the backfield on a consistent basis. ND will be fine w/o him & I wish him luck. He’ll likely be a free agent & see some time returning kickoffs which is what he really excels at. He still had a nice ypc…just needs to be consistent.

  4. joshspangler says: Jan 9, 2014 7:41 AM

    This is a player that I really thought was going to blow up while at ND. Others have said it as well, but the home-run factor w/ this kid was always there – just didn’t happen that often. To be fair, I don’t know that he’ll be drafted, and if so, I’d see him in the 6th-7th round. There was a lot of talent behind him at ND and I think he knew he’d be losing touches – but I still think he would’ve been better off having stuck around and finished at ND.

    If it was a case where he’d been projected 3rd/4th round, I could justify the ‘roll the dice’ line his Dad dropped. . . but at some point, I’m not sure that rolling the dice is how you plan for your future.

    I hate to see a talent like GA3 leave but I don’t think it’s going to hurt the Irish at all.

  5. raiderredleg says: Jan 9, 2014 8:25 AM

    Time will tell if it is “risky” or not, but with the new NFL rookie wage scale and the relative short shelf life of a RB/Return Specialist in the NFL, why not?

    Worst case (i.e. he goes undrafted) surely the Raiders will take a flyer on him (as a Raider legacy player PLUS they could DEFINITELY use an upgrade in their return game) and if he can’t make the team, stash him on the practice squad and let him develop some more (as irishdodger suggested).

  6. ttalarico says: Jan 9, 2014 1:17 PM

    @irishdodger

    I don’t disagree with what you have said. I’m sure the depth chart has a lot to do with his decision. If is truly a NFL talent, I believe he would have been much better off playing another year of college ball. Evidently he didn’t think he could beat out the other backs.

    At any rate, I wish him luck and will be anxious to see how it turns out.

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