Defensive End Considering Tigers

This defender from the Sunshine State has Auburn in his top five.

Sarasota, Fla.--Looking for replacements for seniors James Callier, Alton Moore and Javor Mills at defensive end, the Auburn Tigers have been searching high and low for players that can come in and make a difference as a freshman. One player who definitely fits that bill is Baraka Atkins from Booker High School in Sarasota.

A two-way standout at both defensive end and offensive tackle for Booker, he led his team to a 6-4 record before the season ended with a first round playoff loss on a last-second field goal just a week ago. Splitting time between end and tackle on defense, the 6-5, 245 Atkins finished with 80 tackles and 21 sacks while averaging five quarterback hurries per game. A very active player on defense with five deflected passes, four caused fumbles and three fumble recoveries, Atkins says that he loves playing defense and has that defensive mentality that allows him to really enjoy going after the ball carrier.

Without a favorite, Atkins says that he has five schools that he's looking at as possible college destinations. "The top five right now are Miami, Florida, Ohio State, LSU and Auburn," he notes. "I made an official visit to Michigan State for the Indiana game. It was a good trip but they lost. Overall it was a pretty good trip."

Visiting LSU this coming weekend for Auburn's battle for the SEC Western Division Championship, Atkins says that he is still unsure whether he will visit Auburn or not this winter but admits that the Tigers have many things he's looking for in a school.

"I like the coaches and the program," he notes. "I know they are building a strong program right now because they are playing a bunch of young players. They are a good competitive program. I enjoyed meeting with coaches, I met coach (Greg) Knox, coach (Terry) Price and coach (Tommy) Tuberville and I really liked them."

A full-time starter on both offense and defense as a junior and senior, Atkins says that he prefers to play defense but he understood he needed to make a sacrifice. "It's not what I wanted to do but I did it to help the team. I ended up enjoying it and I had no problems with it because I was helping the team. I wound up doing pretty good on that side of the ball."

Also a member of the basketball, track and weight lifting teams for Booker, Atkins is a busy man during the school year. Playing both the power forward and center spots, Atkins has been a two-year starter while playing basketball. Throwing both the shot put and discuss for the track team, Atkins says he has personal bests of 120 feet in the discus and 45 feet in the shot put. In the weight room he bench presses 320 pounds and cleans 285 pounds.

Tiger Ticket Extra: Considered one of the top defensive end prospects in the nation, Atkins is rated as the #9 overall prospect in the country by the Insiders.com Network...Atkins reports that he has a 3.2 grade point average in his core courses and has scored 20 on the ACT and 1040 SAT so he is well on his way to being an academic qualifier.


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