ASU vs. Notre Dame Scouting Report: Irish RB George Atkinson


Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back George Atkinson III. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY SportsAsk the coaching staff at Notre Dame, and they’ll tell you George Atkinson III has the speed and power to be a special player for the Fighting Irish. The 6’2″, 220-pound junior’s skills were on full display in a losing effort against Oklahoma last Saturday, when he galloped for an 80-yard touchdown to begin the second half of the game.

The junior standout ran the ball 14 times for a career-high 148 yards and a touchdown versus the Sooners. In four previous games, he had carried 24 times for 121 yards.

The former all-conference sprinter is tough to catch in the open field when he can get up to full speed. He’s scored three times in his career from 55 yards out or farther.

Atkinson has emerged as a bright spot for Notre Dame, whose rushing attack had struggled through the first four games of the 2013 season in ranking 99th in the nation.

As a freshman in 2011, Atkinson played in all 13 games for the Irish, proving to be a key asset on special teams. He returned a pair of kickoffs for touchdowns and tied a school record for most kickoff returns for TDs in a season. He was named second-team Freshman All-American by Phil Steele and was an honorable mention All-American by as a kick returner.

A native of Stockton, Calif., Atkinson rushed for 351 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore in 2012. He saw action in 12 games and was once again crucial on special teams and offense. He ranked third on the team with 361 rushing yards and tied for second in rushing touchdowns (five) with Theo Riddick.

Atkinson was a highly regarded player in the prep ranks. He was rated 89th on the list of top 100 players nationally. He rushed 172 times for 1,669 yards and 17 TDs in 2010 as a running back, wide receiver and defensive back for Granada High School in Livermore, Calif. His top games featured 206 rushing yards on five carries and three TDs vs. Castro Valley (and a 60-yard punt return for a TD), plus rushing games of 202 yards vs. Amador Valley (TD runs of 26, 68 and 71), 178 vs. Livermore and 177 vs. College Park.