ATHENS — Georgia’s John Atkins once was considered a pretty strong prospect to play offensive line. And after this past Saturday’s game against Ole Miss, he’d strongly consider making a position switch to fullback. That, or play both ways.
The Bulldogs’ junior noseguard got to do a little of both against the Rebels. UGA coach Kirby Smart unexpectedly sent in Atkins — and fellow defensive lineman Julian Rochester — to block on a fourth-and-one play at the Mississippi 39 on the first play of the second quarter.
The 6-foot-4, 315-pound lined up at fullback as the lead blocker for Nick Chubb on the play. Chubb gained 16 yards on the off-right-tackle run.
Making the feat all the more remarkable is Atkins insisted he had not practiced at all on offense.
“I was just thrown out there,” Atkins recounted Tuesday. “It was like, ‘Just go. Go ahead out there.’”
Asked what were his instructions, Atkins laughed. “Just go hit someone.”
Atkins did, and he came away feeling good about it, too. He claimed he blocked “two for one” on the play, though a review of the video is inconclusive as to whether it was opponents or his own teammates he took out.
Actually it was Rochester, who lined up at tight end, who executed the most important block. Lining up at tight end on the right side outside f tackle Greg Pyke, he dominated his man. Chubb cut outside around right end, then juked a closing defensive back to take the ball straight up the hash marks for the big gain.
Atkins said he played offensive tackle and tight end when he was at Thomson High School, and that’s what he was thinking about when he ran into the game. Once he lined up, he was thinking, “Just go. When the first man shows, just hit him.”
Clearly it was a thrill for Atkins, who said he’s hopeful he will become a regular part of Georgia’s “jumbo package” on offense.
“I got my feet wet so now I think I can do it,” Atkins said.
His ultimate dream? Catching a pass “I definitely hope so.”