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Atkinson takes a risk, departs Notre Dame for NFL Draft

Jan 8, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

Michigan State v Notre Dame Getty Images

Junior running back George Atkinson III is leaving the Notre Dame football program, declaring for the NFL Draft after three seasons in South Bend. That the speedster is willing to test the murky waters that lie ahead of him could be a telling sign as to where he thought he stood in the program’s future.

One of the fastest players in college football, Atkinson possesses elite speed, especially for a back that weighs 220 pounds. After receiving a late round grade from the NFL’s talent evaluators, Atkinson is gambling that someone will take a shot on his rare athletic blend for a player that’ll likely contribute as a kick return man to start.

After opening the season as the team’s starting running back, Atkinson saw less and less time as the season wore on, giving away carries to Cam McDaniel and Tarean Folston. While a breakout game against Oklahoma, where Atkinson ran for 148 yards on just 10 carries, gave you a flash of what he could do, Atkinson followed that up by laying an egg against a soft Arizona State rush defense, playing one of his least effective games when given 18 carries.

Atkinson sat out the Pinstripe Bowl after violating team rules, a suspension Atkinson took to Twitter to defend, though he quickly deleted the message. The suspension came shortly after Atkinson’s father, former Raider George Atkinson Jr., criticized the direction of the Irish football program on a radio program in the Bay Area.

Dan Murphy of BlueandGold.com caught up with Atkinson Jr. to ask about his son’s decision to leave school early. As you’d expect, he said the decision had nothing to do with the recent radar blips, but rather the opportunity to play professionally.

“I guess it’s like anything else when you feel you’re ready for something and the time is proper for you,” Atkinson’s father said. “If you have an opportunity why not try to seize it?”

While Irish fans often focused on Atkinson’s limitations, he’s shown the ability to be an elite return man while also averaging 6.4 yards per carry over the past two seasons, a testament to his home run ability. He may struggle to catch the ball in space and run more upright than you’d want, but as his placement among the freaks of college football attest, his raw talent will likely be enough to get an NFL team to take a flier on him.

Atkinson will begin training for the draft, with an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine still not official. With a 10.36 100m time and a sprinter background, getting an opportunity to show off in Indianapolis would be a great break for him.

With Atkinson gone, the running back depth chart seems to gain clarity. With Tarean Folston, Amir Carlisle and Cam McDaniel now joined by Greg Bryant, and Will Mahone battling for reps as well, the four man depth chart is more manageable, though puts a focus on recruiting the position as well.

The Irish have lost Louis Nix, Stephon Tuitt and now Atkinson to the draft. Troy Niklas still has a decision to make as well.

  1. 25kgold - Jan 8, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    The backfield pecking order is now free and clear this coming season!

    • dickasman - Jan 9, 2014 at 12:23 AM

      I’m tempted to bring up my Carwash reference here but I know if he runs anywhere near 4.4, some doofus will draft him 3-5 round purely based on speed alone. I think he will make a decent DB in a few years actually.

    • dickasman - Jan 9, 2014 at 12:24 AM

      I hope belichick drafts him.

  2. mcirish27 - Jan 8, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    Not mad at this at all. Wish you the best of luck, George.

    This benefits our friend Amir quite a bit as well – a name that was conspicuously absent from Keith’s mention of the depth chart…

    • getsome99 - Jan 8, 2014 at 3:32 PM

      Would be awesome if Carlisle learned how to return kicks and punts.

      • mbannon92 - Jan 9, 2014 at 5:40 PM

        He looked pretty good returning kickoffs in the bowl game. With some practice back there he could become a huge threat.

  3. rossumnminor - Jan 8, 2014 at 3:30 PM

    Now the backfield can get right down to business. Valuable reps that can go to Bryant and get this thing rolling

  4. seanb20124 - Jan 8, 2014 at 3:38 PM

    Is his twin brother still with the program?

  5. tedlinko - Jan 8, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    GAIII has loads of raw talent, and I wish him success at the next level. But the future of the Irish run game lies with Folston and Bryant, with McDaniel providing consistency, leadership and a change of pace. As such, I’m not sure this is as much of a “risk” as the headline would suggest. Fact is, the way things are heading, GAIII wasn’t likely to see the field enough next year to improve his draft prospects for 2015. As it is, with his athletic talent, someone will surely take a chance on him – or worst case he’ll sign as a FA and have to prove himself in training camp (which he’d need to do anyway).

    If nothing else, this opens up another scholarship spot to hopefully land one of the blue chippers still on the Irish radar, or to bring back a 5th year who can contribute.

    The one line in Keith’s post that still gives me the shivers is the last one “…Troy Niklas still has a decision to make as well.” We knew Louis was gone, and as much as I hoped Stephon would stick around, it was always a longshot, but Troy looks to be shaping up to be a key component of what could be a pretty impressive offense next year. It would be a tough blow to lose him.

    • ndcanuck - Jan 8, 2014 at 3:49 PM

      Good point about Troy – ND will need him next year both in the passing game and to help shore up a young O-line. Sure hope he stays!

      As for George, it’s a bit surprising but not a big loss in my mind. Can’t see him making an NFL team, but his flatout speed might allow him to find his way to the CFL on special teams. Maybe.

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Jan 8, 2014 at 4:22 PM

      Great point about not improving his draft stock by staying. I never thought about it that way, but you’re spot on!

    • italianirish - Jan 8, 2014 at 6:01 PM

      “Niklas’ father, Don Niklas, had told ESPN.com that Troy had received a grade between the second- and fourth-rounds, and that Troy plans on returning for his senior season and receiving his degree.”

      This is at the end of the ESPN article: http://espn.go.com/nfl/draft2014/story/_/id/10261576/2014-nfl-draft-george-atkinson-iii-notre-dame-fighting-irish-forgoing-final-year-eligibility

      There’s no other context, but it sounds promising that that means he’s staying.

    • danirish - Jan 9, 2014 at 11:29 AM

      I also focused on the line about Niklas, but I thought I had read/heard/imagined that he got his grade to see what he needed to improve on, heck, that is actually pretty smart.

      Find out what you need to work on and get a year to work on it.

  6. ibleedirish - Jan 8, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    So, he couldn’t beat out questionable running backs on his own team, but thinks he’s NFL ready.
    The young man will test well at the combine on two things:
    1. Running fast in a straight line.
    2. Self confidence.

    Best of luck to him, but I think we know how this story ends.

    • goirishgo - Jan 8, 2014 at 4:03 PM

      I don’t think his decision has anything to do with NFL readiness. It’s about timing. He can leave now with a shot at being drafted or he can stay and get buried on the ND depth chart and have no chance at all next year. I assume BK has apprised him as such.

      He’s making a good choice…the only one he has, really.

      • ibleedirish - Jan 8, 2014 at 4:15 PM

        I’m glad he left, I think it avoids a potentially cancerous area of the team if reports on twitter are true regarding his receptiveness to coaching.

        But if he is relying on a stellar combine performance anyways (and obviously he is) then a smarter life decision would clearly be: get the degree, train hard (free of charge btw), take the carries he gets, and rely on a stellar combine next year? Frankly, I don’t see how you could argue otherwise/

      • idratherbeinsouthbend - Jan 8, 2014 at 4:24 PM

        “if reports on twitter are true” ..SMH

        It is the world we live in I guess.

      • ibleedirish - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:01 PM

        You do understand that there are reliable sources/columnists etc that post on the twitter these days, yes? I forget now which columnist posted, but rest assured, I’m not repeating some dickasman posting from his basement. Next time, I’ll remember the bibliography. :)

  7. mayesdays - Jan 8, 2014 at 3:58 PM

    Do the Irish need a RB in this recruiting year with GAIII leaving?

    • ibleedirish - Jan 8, 2014 at 4:18 PM

      No.

    • heartofgoldandblue - Jan 8, 2014 at 4:21 PM

      I wouldn’t think it would make a difference with him only having one year eligibility left anyway. But I think next class it should be a huge priority, don’t think they’d be able to pull any big time backs off this year so why pick up someone just for a little depth. It’s nice that they’re able to be picky about recruiting a RB.

  8. usafa68 - Jan 8, 2014 at 5:30 PM

    I wish George all the best in his pursuit of the NFL dream and I hope he decides to do what’s necessary to get his degree from ND. Next year’s team has a ton of talent and senior (and GS) leadership will be a key in determining how far they can go. George never seemed to “fit” into that department and the change may do him good. Thanks for the memories, George, and good luck to you.

  9. mdp44 - Jan 8, 2014 at 6:21 PM

    A team will draft him after he puts up good combine #’s

  10. irishaggie - Jan 8, 2014 at 6:25 PM

    He may be 220 pounds put don’t let him fool you. If you just look at him he goes down.

    With a deeeep backfield he won’t be missed and it sounds to me like by the end he wasn’t happy and just wanted out. And lets remember that this guy was recruited as an electrifying project. “Lets get him the ball in space and let him go to work”. He wasn’t truly a RB nor a WR cuz he can’t catch the ball. It took him 3 years to understand pad level and to this day he still has bad vision.

    Wish him well and hopefully he gets out of the practice squad by year 2.

    • nudeman - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:37 PM

      Considering his elite athletic talent, he’s underachieved as a football player.
      Period

      I can only imagine the coaches at ND – Alford, Kelly and others, who busted their ass to make him a better football player only to see incremental improvement at best. What are they thinking now?

      IMO, this is a shade above zero in terms of its impact.
      In fact, it just might be a positive.

      Good call Dad

  11. idratherbeinsouthbend - Jan 8, 2014 at 6:30 PM

    “With the 5th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft the Oakland Raiders select…..George Atkinson III, Running Back, Notre Dame.” – said Roger Goodell.

    LOL

    • heartofgoldandblue - Jan 8, 2014 at 8:56 PM

      Haha Might be a realistic possibility if Al was still alive

    • dickasman - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:48 AM

      5th? They’re not that crazy. They will not let this talent pass by. You mean w first pick?

  12. viktory2013 - Jan 8, 2014 at 7:30 PM

    Atkinson is certainly an optimistic kid if believes the NFL has a spot waiting for him. Unless his dad’s name carries weight with teams (unlikely), I have a better chance at the presidency. He showed no toughness, instinct, aggressiveness, or even skill.

  13. bernhtp - Jan 8, 2014 at 7:35 PM

    I think George is making a mistake, but I understand his thinking. I hope he finds time to complete his degree.

    My bet is that he had a talk with Kelly where there was frank talk about his depth position, which is likely below Folston, McDaniel, and Bryant. His behavior may even have put him behind Carlisle. I can’t help but think that was a big factor.

    Regarding recruiting, we don’t need another back this cycle given that the years of eligibility remaining (including this coming season):

    – 1 McDaniel
    – 2 Carlisle
    – 3 Folston and Mahone
    – 4 Bryant

    • onward2victory - Jan 9, 2014 at 3:54 AM

      Yah Bryant essentially is the RB of the 2014 class now.

    • ibleedirish - Jan 9, 2014 at 12:45 PM

      Care to elaborate on how you understand his thinking?

      Any rational, outside eval of his game tape says he’s not an NFL player. The choices as I see them:
      1. Non-NFL player
      2. Non-NFL player with a ND degree

      The bottom line is he stands an outside shot at being a combine hero and making a team. But he could just as easily do that next year, degree in hand.
      Again, glad he’s leaving, I think it simplifies the scenario next year. And I’ll gladly eat my words someday if that pro career works out. I just think its a stupid, immature, emotional decision, and its a shame he doesn’t have people telling him so (or isnt listening).

      • ndfaithful - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:18 PM

        If he doesn’t get drafted, who’s to say he can’t still get a degree at ND? He may lose his eligibility and even his scholarship, but is there some rule that he can’t take a shot in the draft and go back to class at the school?

      • ibleedirish - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:21 PM

        Of course not, and you of course know that. Call me frugal, but I’d really rather take those classes and train on premium equipment for free. Most rational people would, I think… but maybe I’m just out of touch.

      • ibleedirish - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:55 PM

        Btw, I’d really like to see you replace the word “may” with “will” in your post above. Much more accurate, and an important distinction.

      • bernhtp - Jan 9, 2014 at 2:25 PM

        His thinking, possibly via a frank talk with Kelly or staff, is that his prospects for playing time won’t improve next year and will likely decline with the addition of Bryant. This might be his best shot at the NFL, regardless of how unlikely it may be.

        Kelly is also a control freak, especially when it comes to communication. He’s a stickler on the allowable use of social media like Twitter. Between GA3′s transgressions along with his Dad’s rants probably sent Kelly over the edge. Coaches also put a bunch of effort into developing GA3 with little to show for it. GA3 gets his large ypc from the several long runs, but also doesn’t get needed yardage when counted upon. This lack of consistency would likely show up in a much lower median ypc, if that stat were ever calculated.

        GA3 not only can continue his education at ND, but will be strongly encouraged to. The University takes great pride in its graduation rate. I wouldn’t be surprised if he got help via a non-athletic scholarship.

  14. papadec - Jan 8, 2014 at 7:50 PM

    I think the writing was on the wall with the Bowl game suspension, dad’s radio comments, and strike #3 the tweet. Not everyone is the RKG. Good luck in the draft & life.

    • onward2victory - Jan 9, 2014 at 4:01 AM

      He’s not a bad guy papa. For the majority of his ND career he appeared to be a RKG.

      As far as I can tell, George did everything the coaches asked of him and we actually saw improvement in his running this season compared to last. The problem is, he just wasn’t a good RB to begin with and the progress was too little too late, so he got passed up.

      I wish him the best of luck, and hopefully it works out for the best for both parties.

      • papadec - Jan 9, 2014 at 3:11 PM

        onward – he might not be “a bad guy” in your opinion, based on what you know. But do you really think 1 (one) tweet at a meal was the reason he was left in South Bend? There had to be more going on.

  15. pdmjr - Jan 8, 2014 at 7:59 PM

    I wish him well, he did play for ND.

  16. fnc111 - Jan 8, 2014 at 8:37 PM

    I think Mr. Atkinson is accurate in his assessment of the ND program. It’s going nowhere fast. I think Carlisle is likely to transfer by the end of spring/fall camp.

    My father ran into a local legendary high school football coach that was an assistant for ND back in the day. His words were its an embarrassment how Kelly yells at his QB’s and that “Kelly is in over his head at ND.” His words not mine.

    • tucsonfan - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:05 PM

      Maybe you didn’t notice that MOST coaches yell at players from time to time, including all the top tier coaches’ so your comment is fatuous, as usual. Maybe you prefer the Willingham stoic types? I also think you made up the so-called legendary HS coach who was an assistant at ND. I can’t imagine a real coach saying that.

      Atkinson excelled at running very fast in a straight line–I think that’s about it. He’s not quick, just fast. Poor vision and poor hands. I think he’s the major reason the run game was so dismal early on, he was supposed to be the lead horse and couldn’t get it done.He wasn’t exactly a bonfire as a kick returner either.

      Carlisle wouldn’t seem like a big loss if he left, another disappointment vs expectations.

    • newmexicoirish - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:20 PM

      fnc, I very vividly remember Lou Holtz walking a large offensive lineman off the field by his facemask during a game on national T.V. for committing a penalty. It was one of the most extraordinary things I’ve ever seen a coach do during a game. I’m sure the kid he had by the face mask was pretty embarrassed at the time. The announcers simply commented how they did not want to be in that players shoes come practice on Monday.

      Holtz was a strict disciplinarian, especially during practices, although he could let loose on the sidelines as well. Some of Joe Moore’s tirades toward players is the stuff of legend. These guys know they are going to get yelled at, and when they do they also realize it’s because they screwed up. It doesn’t seem like they mind too much – they keep playing.

      • mediocrebob - Jan 9, 2014 at 9:29 AM

        You have to remember, FNC is part of the new generation. Mom and Dad didn’t let coaches or teachers discipline him. He got ice cream win or lose, guessing usually a loss considering how miserable he is. He soft like the rest of this generation.

        Had this conversation with a buckeye fan who was ripping on Kelly for his “purple face”. My response was simple. Woody Hayes is a god around Columbus. Talk about a disciplinarian. How about Saban? Guy is in your face repeatedly if you screw up. Bottom line. You commit to these coaches knowing their style. BK hasn’t changed who he is or how he coaches since he came to ND. He’s passionate and intense. If you can’t take that as a player, you’re mentally weak and I wouldn’t want you on my team in the first place.

      • grumpyirish61 - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:12 PM

        http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-4074857.html

      • rjshan - Jan 9, 2014 at 3:37 PM

        Bob: The two thumbs down are part of the “new generation.”

    • danirish - Jan 9, 2014 at 11:58 AM

      Ah yes, the Kelly is a meanie crowd. You ever watch Miles, Saben, or Fisher on the sidelines? The media loves it when Spurrier throws his visor and the chuckle and call him the “Ole Ball Coach.”

      Who is this ex-ND coach?

  17. ndnphx - Jan 8, 2014 at 8:38 PM

    Those kick runbacks as a freshman were impressive, but that was as good as it got for GAIII. Only the coaches’ obsession with “chunk play” potential even got him on the field. For all the good that did for GAIII or the team. And BTW, he steadily regressed as a kick returner as his career progressed. His few breakaway RB runs didn’t change the outcomes of the games they came in, but his ineffectiveness as an RB generally sure did.

    I seriously doubt this guy ever plays his way onto an NFL roster. No hands and no RB instincts trump straight-line speed as long as he’s playing football. I hope for his own sake that he realizes he needs to come back and finish his degree.

    • ibleedirish - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:07 PM

      “His few breakaway RB runs didn’t change the outcomes of the games they came in, but his ineffectiveness as an RB generally sure did.”

      Bravo

  18. fnc111 - Jan 8, 2014 at 8:42 PM

    Lol, GA3 getting bashed in here but all he did was work hard and kept his nose clean.

    Tommy Turnover and Cheater Golson can do no wrong though. Wow just wow.

    • irishaggie - Jan 8, 2014 at 9:03 PM

      fnc,

      Not going after you just wondering if you were away for a while or something like Austin Powers style. Tommy (deservingly at times) got bashed pretty good on these boards for 4 years. You could argue he’s been the most scrutinized player in ND history.

    • tucsonfan - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:07 PM

      I wonder if you know anything at all about football.

    • danirish - Jan 9, 2014 at 12:01 PM

      Your lack of knowledge or thought is staggering sometimes. I haven’t seen any bashing, what I’ve seen is accurate observations by fans who have watched the kid play. We have opinions on how great he was a freshman only to see him run straight up and get plastered for 3 years. Can you imagine what is going to happen if he takes an inside handoff in the Pros and runs straight up or worries about pad level?

      When someone yells at GAIII and wants harm done to him or insults him sure, that goes to far but so far, none of that.

  19. heartofgoldandblue - Jan 8, 2014 at 9:15 PM

    Doesn’t seem to me he’s getting bashed save a couple of comments. He was a much more effective returner his freshman year than his sophomore and junior year and except for a few big plays he wasn’t a consistent or productive back. Don’t really see how that is bashing him, a lot of us wish him well in the draft and the nfl including myself. And if you truly believe Tommy or Everette haven’t received much criticism (the bashing was a little excessive in Tommy’s case in my opinion) it just shows how delusional and one-sided you are like your ALL negative thoughts on BK. Are you still as confident that BK is going to Detroit?

  20. runners00 - Jan 8, 2014 at 10:23 PM

    The offensive line is the key. Can they craft some holes for our backs? That is what I want to know. I am disappointed that an OC hasn’t been named yet. It sounds like Michigan picked up Alabama’s OC. We need someone that can get this offense back to basics, where we have a strong back that can get 100 on the ground and a decent quarterback who can get us 250 to 300 through the air.

    Atkinson had speed. He was not very capable of breaking tackles, though, and I suspect that will inhibit his success in the NFL. He reminds me a lot of Crist. Great raw talent. It stayed too raw.

  21. getsome99 - Jan 9, 2014 at 12:36 AM

    If he runs a sub 4.3 40 at the combine, he’ll go 3rd round to someone who has some extra picks. Low 4.3′s should get him drafted in the late rounds (6-7). He apparently has worn out his welcome at ND with the crowded backfield although he was given more than a fair shot to step up this season and make a name for himself. If he would have just learned to catch screen passes during his 3 years.

    • heartofgoldandblue - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:01 AM

      Is that how it works? Sub 4.3 = 3rd round , low 4.3s = 6-7 rounds…how do you get into the 4-5th rounds? …4.3 flat? If he runs high 4.3s he goes undrafted? Seems a little ridiculous to me, I think most GMs know better than only to draft by speed. How’s his game tape looking? Pretty unimpressive by NFL standards.

      • getsome99 - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:23 AM

        If he had any film showing any potential in run blocking and pass catching, he would be a 2nd rounder right now and the 2nd or 3rd back in this draft, which is deep. A sub 4.3 is very rare though so yes, GM’s will use an early round pick on him if he clocks that time. The downside for him is kick returners don’t have the same value now as before with the increase number of touchbacks. So unless you’re really special and can return punts or run a 4.28 40, teams may be less inclined to invest a premium draft pick on a specialist. I don’t see him as a runner in the NFL anytime soon, but if he can return punts, he may have a few years to groom into one or even switch to defense.

      • getsome99 - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:34 AM

        Most of the quality RB’s will go in the 3rd/4th/5th rounds. That’s not George. George will not be drafted based on where he ranks amongst his peers. George will be drafted on a different scale IF IF IF he runs a freakish 40 time. If he runs just a “normal” fast time of say 4.32 (but still fastest in the RB group), I think he falls to the back of the pack. But if he runs a 4.28, he will surpass quite a few RB’s on the draft board that had more productive college careers.

      • heartofgoldandblue - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:48 AM

        I just don’t think there is a enough value/potential to substantiate a pick any higher than the 6th round, I don’t care how fast he runs the 40. The only position I see him playing or even considered for is Kickoff Returner.

        KR- elite speed, good vision and although inconsistent, has had success returning kicks

        PR- poor lateral agility, stiff hips and the inability to break tackles. He can’t create space to even get into 5th gear and even use his speed…not an option.

        RB- elite speed, stiff hips, poor lateral agility, good vision, poor hands, poor pass blocking

        WR- elite speed, can’t catch a cold

        DB- name the last RB or any offensive player for that matter who transitioned into a defensive back, not to mention one who has limited range in the hips which is one of the most important attributes of any DB

      • irishpuma - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:56 AM

        Getsome you are crazy. 4 hundreds of a second is going to make no difference you blew your argument. Had you said he runs 4.25 and the next back runs 4.4 you have a viable argument. If Carey, Mason run within a tenth of him you think anyone is taking GA3 over those guys with 4k+ yards and 40+ TDS???

        I also disagree with you saying this is a deep RB draft. I find it rather week. 3 standouts (meaning they cold go in the second round) and then a level field after that. Which makes GA3 case stronger and probably his best shot of getting into the NFL as with Kelly next year the writing was on the wall. I am not sure Kelly can ever let one person be featured regardless.

        Now I do agree once you get to late rounds and Everyone who put up in college is gone and GA3 has a significantly lower 40 than he will be in business. I think that might be possible because the RB talent is so poor this year. I honestly don’t think his time matters that much because everyone knows he has elite speed so someone will take a late round flyer on him but I don’t see any scenario where he goes top 2 rounds and even 3rd or 4th round would take a 4.2 something to make it happen…..

        I agree with heartofgold….metrics are just metrics….

        We will see.

      • nudeman - Jan 9, 2014 at 9:26 AM

        heart

        You’ve got it pretty much exactly right with the second post in this thread.
        Very poor football instincts and skills, despite all the speed.

    • getsome99 - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:06 AM

      Write it down. Sub 4.3 40, he goes 3rd or early 4th round. Low 4.3′s and he goes 6th or later.

  22. irishpuma - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:39 AM

    As usual I disagree somewhat with all of you learned takes. GA3 with the exception of the dust up with his dad has been nothing but a class act and I think everyone needs to relax a little. I mean people on here cut REESUS all kinds of slack based on his lack of natural talent, that was the excuse he is doing everything he can he just has no skills. Now you are crucifying GA3 for having ridiculous skills and not getting anything out of them. I never heard he did not give 100% or practice hard or do what the staff wanted. Part of that is not his fault. I agree he does not appear to have good hands or vision but lets look at some other things.

    He had 150 carries in 3 full years at ND!! That is only 50 carries a year. That is such a small sample set for a RB that is ridiculous. Cam got 24 carries in one game averaging 4 yards.

    GA3 averaged 6.2 yards a carry for his entire career and still only received 153 carries. I think this stat must be wrong or maybe I am thinking of the Blue and Gold Game but it says he never fumbled once in game. He also had 10 TD’s rushing which is one every 15 carries not bad. He also had 2 kick return TD’s which we can all agree is a major feat in recent Irish special teams history.

    There was a Notre Dame RB with almost the same stat line, weight, height, and not as much speed who ran left and right and went down easy in college but become a power north south runner in the NFL and had a nice career………Ricky Watters.

    Watters played all 4 seasons for a total of 1,800 yards to GA3″s 1,000 yards in 3 years. Watters averaged 5.6 for his career against GA3′s 6.2, Watters fumbled, Watters was suspended not for team meetings but I digress, Watters had 3 td returns on kickoffs to best GA3.

    Again I probably lean towards the rest of you that he probably will not succeed in the NFL but you never know. He has elite speed, size and has always rushed for a high per carry average and does not fumble. He was a quality guy in the program and I hope he makes it. He does have major holes in his game and his advisors or people in his ear may not be helping him but he may figure it out or get coached out of him. I think it is fair to say he was not afforded that much of an opportunity and to date I have not seen Kelly able to develop anyone since he has been at ND but I could be wrong on that one. Manti was Manti, Jaylon came in a beast…..high caliber RB’s have been on committee and no one has developed, Folston was # 1 this year in my opinion and again he came in a stud. Qb’s? I have seen no development but I guess you could give Kelly credit for Golson but I would argue Golson was a playmaker from the start. Tuitt and Nix they were good from birth…….sorry got off topic.

    In conclusion GA3 has a chance and that is more than 99% of people get so lets root him on and hope he sticks.

    • ndfaithful - Jan 9, 2014 at 8:17 AM

      That’s an interesting perspective and post. I agree that lots of people here started bashing GA3 for some odd and petty reasons. I also think it’s possible that very few running backs are going to put up serious numbers under BK at ND. He just seems to use the run game as a change of pace and doesn’t seem to have any interest in having a ‘feature’ back.

      I also found your review of his stats interestings. One other potential ‘plus’ is that the NFL teams may see his limited carries to be a good thing. They might say he has miles left in the tank.

      The comparison to Watters seems to be a bit of a stretch. Watters, while looking similar on paper, just LOOKED like an elite athlete and was exciting to watch. He came from my area of the country and NFL was mentioned while he was in high school. He went to ND with a crowded backfield and a disciplinarian coach. But it was just obvious when you watched him that he should play on Sundays.

      I don’t think I ever saw GA3 look like an NFL player when he lined up in the backfield. He rarely ran or looked like a running back in my opinion. He just always seemed out of place and like he was pretending back there.

      I hope he does well. It’s interesting to see how many potential ND guys will be playing on Sundays. Manti, Eifert, Riddick, Nix, Tuitt, maybe GA3? Jones could play, Martin, and I think the guy with the most potential to make a splash still has to make a decision – Niklas.

      Just my $0.02.

    • nudeman - Jan 9, 2014 at 9:23 AM

      irishpuma

      Hmmmm … not sure about “class act”.
      I know of no transgressions other than the texting at breakfast, but I also believe that was probably a last straw. Who suspends a starter solely for texting?

      Probably not on the coaching staff’s “most coachable” list, and the recent blather his dad spouted gives you an idea of how much the Atkinsons as a family liked ND.

      The other thing is this: Interesting that GAIII was such a soft player, given that his dad was one of the baddest asses of his time. He and Tatum were legendary for hard hitting, head shots, late hits, etc.

      You can succeed in the NFL without speed and without size.
      You can’t succeed if you don’t like getting hit.
      He will get drafted, probably by the Raiders in a late round, because the scion of a player from the good old days is more important to them than winning.

      Overall … addition by subtraction, even though he was making (a little) progress.

  23. danirish - Jan 9, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    Maybe this is just another Powlus/Holtz thing – both great folks, the marriage just wasn’t all that. I think he will def. make a team as a kick returner and perhaps some WR guru can help his hands.

    He has been a class act but just never lived up to potential that a fast, 220 pound guy should – now we can argue about why he didn’t reach potential all day (coaching, him, blah blah blah)

    I don’t believe there is much bashing on him, there is a bunch of observations of potential that never happened. Giving your opinion that he wasn’t that good and his leaving is good for the team – is that bashing?

    AND Rees had his supporters and his “haters;” so does Golson and GAIII – that is why we are called – fans!

    Think about this:

    His breakout game was Oklahoma – stats: 10 carries, 148 yards. 1 of those carries was a beautiful run of 80 yards that started with a hole that was opened so wide by the left side of the line and Niklas, I could’ve ran for at least 10 yards.

    So 1 carry = 80 yards, 9 carries = 69 or a 7.6 yrd/carry – HEY, that’s not bad!

    • nudeman - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      I am not a big believer in proving points exclusively with stats.
      They aren’t irrelevant, but they are frequently misleading.

      So I’d just ask you these questions:
      1) Tight game, you need to grind it out, hold the ball and take time off the clock.
      Q: Who do you want carrying the ball 7 straight times: GAIII, or Folston, McDaniel or Bryant?

      2) Other team is blitzing a lot and mixing up their coverages.
      Q: Who do you want at RB to pick up the blitzer? GAIII, Folston, Bryant or McDaniel?

      3) Other team is very vulnerable to covering backs on pass routes: GAIII, Folston, McDaniel or Bryant?

      GAIII is not the answer to any of those.
      The ONLY situation where he’s the answer is if you need someone to run for 80 yards through a gaping hole where he won’t be touched. He does that well.

      I don’t see this guy being missed at all, but he’ll kill it at the combine and probably get drafted.

      • danirish - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:28 PM

        1. McDaniel (and Bryant if we are to believe the hype)

        2. Early in the year Folston or late year Folston? Otherwise McDaniel

        3. Folston & Bryant – hype says Bryant can catch

        I agree that he will be drafted – what do they say about athletes? You can’t coach 7 feet tall and you can’t coach speed. Maybe he will end up a Weems/Hester type of player?

        Whatever, I hope all goes well, but I can’t say that I’m disappointed he left

  24. danirish - Jan 9, 2014 at 12:14 PM

    What would suck for the team is for the 4 rb’s on roster for all or 1 of them to do something stupid like – cheat on a test and get suspended.

    Seems like we have lots of rb’s, it would suck to suddenly need some because McDaniel choose to leave to pursue a modeling career leaving only 3 backs then one gets hurt….

    Remember Kiel leaving, then Golson was suspended

    • ndfaithful - Jan 9, 2014 at 1:25 PM

      FOUR RB’s?

      McDaniel
      Folston
      Bryant
      Mahone
      Carlisle
      Young guys that can be juggled around
      Scholarships available…

      I like where we stand. I think all five of the guys on the roster will see the field next year. (probably more than I’d like).

  25. 1historian - Jan 9, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    7th round or free agent

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