Freshman Ready to Learn

This incoming freshman talked about how excited he is to becoming a Hurricane. He talks about his summer workout numbers, who he's been working out with, and how good he thinks this year's team will be in this in-depth interview.

Former Sarasota (Fla.) Booker standout Baraka Atkins has been real busy this summer working out with his future teammates while he prepares for his career at the University of Miami.

"I've been out there for most of the summer," Atkins told me. "We've been working on a lot of stuff - from running, agility drills, lifting, and testing."

Speaking of testing, the talented defensive lineman put up some impressive numbers.

"My height was 6-4 and my weight was 248," he said. "We ran the 20-yard shuttle and I got a 4.5-flat. I did a 33 1/2 inch vertical jump, and I maxed out at 315 on the bench."

Atkins said he's been working with the defensive ends most of the summer.

"I'm at d-end right now," he said. "I've been working out with them. It's been real fun because I'm getting a chance to learn from some guys that have been in the program for awhile. They have four senior defensive ends that are really good and they all work really hard. They don't let you slack off and just being around them really pushes you harder."

Atkins said another big reason why he's in such good shape is UM strength & conditioning coach Andrew Swasey.

"Coach Swasey is awesome," he said. "He works us real hard all the time. He's always pushing us and trying to get us ready for what's ahead. A lot of guys have even been throwing up and stuff but I haven't done that just yet (laughing). My time will probably come though."

Atkins said he's gotten to know some of the other incoming freshmen this summer.

"Kareem has been working real hard," he said. "He said he hasn't been able to play in awhile and you can tell because he's been really dedicated all summer long. He's definitely ready. And Glenn Sharpe and Greg Threat have been in my workout group. Glenn's a great athlete. He said he really wants to play this season and you should have seen some of his testing numbers. They were awesome. Greg's a little bigger and works pretty hard too. They have a lot of competition at corner, so they're trying to get an edge."

Atkins said the coaches haven't really discussed whether or not he'll redshirt this season.

"Sometimes I want to and sometimes I dont," he said. "Getting a chance to play on this defensive line would be really special. If I can play that means I worked hard enough to earn the respect of the coaches and I impressed them enough. On the otherhand, I want to be able to learn as much as I possibly can in my first year. By redshirting, I'll be able to just watch what Andrew and Jamaal and those guys do. We lose four defensive ends next year and only two others are coming back. [John Square] is a great pass rusher, but I think if I work hard enough I can start on the other side."

The talented defensive end said he has a few goals that he's aiming for this season.

"My first goal is to help the team as much as possible," he said. "I saw the championship rings and I sure would like to get one of those. I think we have a great chance because the team has been working really hard this summer and all the upperclassmen have the same goal. And for me personally, I just want to learn, learn, learn. Miami has a great system for young defensive linemen to learn in and I'm getting a chance to learn from some great coaches and some great players. I want to be able to take advantage of that opportunity."

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