Senior defensive end Baraka Atkins turned down potential millions in the NFL to come back to UM for his senior season and improve his draft stock.
"I am glad to be back another year," Atkins said. "I am comfortable with the players that we have—the team and the talent that is here. We can make some things happen. I have no regrets about staying another year. Yes it was a tedious decision I had to make, but I felt I mad the right decision for my best interest in the long run.
"I think with the skill and overall talent we have, we can be one of the top defenses in the country and put up great numbers."
After playing defensive tackle in 2005, Atkins will return to his familiar position at defensive end in 2006.
"I think I did well this spring making the adjustment back to end," Atkins said. "I used it as a test to see where I wanted to play and how I felt and getting back to the flow of the play on the outside.
"First, we had a new coach coming in, so I had to adjust to things the way he deemed necessary. I think I handled that well. Other than that, there is a little more space to play at end and a few more responsibilities. It is not like I am a stranger out there, so it did not take much to get back into being at defensive end."
Atkins said the ‘Canes are hungry the offseason. He said he doesn't like to dwell on the Peach Bowl debacle, but it was definitely a total shock to everybody in the program.
"As far as the Peach Bowl being motivation; I believe it will come back into play as the season draws near because that was what our last game was," Atkins said. "That is what most people will remember until the next game is under our belt."
UM of course opens the 2006 season versus FSU.
"That game puts us up on a higher level than everybody else in the nation because we are opening up with such a worthy opponent. We have to start from a higher level and from there hopefully we continue to grow."
Baraka's brother, Dumaka, is battling for the starting center position at FSU.
"He is over there in the FSU system and will be starting I believe," Atkins said. "I am happy for him and look forward to going up against him."
Atkins believes this is one of the most talented defenses he has played with at UM. He discussed which players he is expecting a big year out of.
"Kareem is a player that has a lot of potential," Atkins said. "Calais Campbell is a young defensive end that has a lot of potential. Eric Moncur is a player that has a lot of potential and will be looking to have a big year. In the secondary, we have Glenn Sharpe back and I am definitely glad to have him back."
David Lake can be reached at email@example.com
Atkins Dominating at DE
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