Off the football field, D.J. Atkins is a soft-spoken, mild-mannered guy. But on the gridiron the Callaway High senior tailback is an ever-evolving talent.
Atkins is never satisfied. He is always looking for more, from the line of scrimmage to the end zone. In the bright lights of Friday night high school football, Atkins is a giant at 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds.
He carries a wallop. Defensive players fear him. He runs like a streak of West Georgia lightning. Atkins plays for his team. He would rather win than set individual records, but he has a habit of doing both.
Atkins led Callaway High to the Class AA state semifinals last season, and he expects even more this year from his team and himself.
“I want to be a leader. I want a (state) championship. I want a ring before I leave here. We have some good guys. We have all the talent, and our (offensive) linemen do a terrific job,” said Atkins, who follows in their footsteps as a matter of habit.
Last fall, Atkins rushed for 2,200 yards and 14 touchdowns. He averaged eight yards per carry every time he got his hands on the ball. The good vibrations have returned for the Cavaliers and their steady standout, Atkins.
“I like making plays. I try to go full speed (all the time). I just read the hole and my linemen. Our team is hungry,” said Atkins.
Cavalier offensive coordinator Matt Napier is looking forward to another year of Atkins in the Callaway starting lineup.
“D.J. can do a lot of things. He can outrun you. He can make you miss. He runs like he has a ‘big back’ mentality,” said Napier.
The kid with jersey No. 1 for the Cavaliers can break tackles, and he can be a difference maker in the fourth quarter as well as the first quarter. Atkins never wants to come off the field.
“He is bigger, faster and stronger (this year),” Napier said of Atkins.
And the colleges are knocking on his door. Atkins already has scholarship offers from Southern Mississippi, Middle Tennessee State, Western Carolina and Central Arkansas.
Campbell University from Buies Creek, N.C. has extended Atkins a scholarship offer as well. D.J. Atkins has speed, power and a football future.
He is definitely headed in the right direction.