Just being on the field itself is a major development for a young man who battled a myriad of injuries in his two seasons on campus.
"It seemed like I was actually living in the training room last year," Atiga said. "I was dealing with bad knees and not even being able to bend last year. There were tendinitis in both of my knees, my hip was bad and it was such a struggle to get healthy. But I got treatment every day so I could get to where I am today.
"I feel a lot better going into this spring and it's been great to be able to run with the ones and twos and just keep working to get a spot on the team," Atiga added.
Atiga chose Arkansas late on May 18th, 2011 after getting a waiver that allowed him immediate NCAA eligibility as a sophomore with three years left to play.
It seemed like a promising signing because Atiga – who chose Arkansas over Oregon State, Washington and Utah State - led Snow College in 2010 with 53 tackles, including 14 for lost yardage in his redshirt freshman season.
But he played in just two games without any stats as a sophomore and then found himself on the scout team last season and didn't play a single snap as he battled through his maladies.
"This is my last ride and it certainly hasn't turned out the way I thought it would," Atiga said. "But I am determined to get on the field as much as I can this year and make a future for myself. I am just trying work hard and impress the coaches."
New Razorback linebacker coach Randy Shannon, the former Miami head coach, likes what he has seen out of Atiga.
"He is doing very well," Shannon said. "He is improving. He has gotten a lot better and each week has continued to improve. He just has to hone in and keep doing what he is doing. We feel great with him right now."
Shannon has street cred with his linebackers, who know him as the guy who developed former NFL star Ray Lewis.
"He coached Ray Lewis so I knew it was a good coaching hire," Atiga said. "...He brings a lot to the table every day. He tells us a lot of stories about coaching in the past.
"One thing about us linebackers is that we are all working together and trying to get better each day," Atiga added. "One thing we all really like about Coach Shannon is he is all about the fundamentals, which is something that he emphasizes."
Shannon has made all of his linebackers learn all three of the linebacker spots – Will, Sam and Mike – this spring.
"He wants us to be able to play all three positions so he throws us in there at all of them to see what we can do," Atiga said. "It has been split pretty evenly."