St. Thomas Aquinas is known in recruiting circles for having arguably the most talented offensive line in high school football. Sam Young (left tackle), Marcus Gilbert (right tackle), and Daniel Wenger (center) are all legitimate Division-1 prospects with offers from a host of college programs. Each week defensive lineman Geno Atkins has a chance to face them in practice and admits that it will only make him better in the long run.
"It's tough, those guys are the best offensive linemen I will face all year," Atkins told Scout.com's Charles Fishbein. "The crazy thing is that I have to face them everyday in practice. All three are great athletes and will be among the best at their positions this year."
Atkins, who is known as Geno or Gene, is making the transition to defensive line after playing middle linebacker for all of his high school career. As a junior he led St. Thomas Aquinas, a team that reached the state 5A finals, in tackles, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries. Atkins finished with 53 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, four fumbel recoveries, three forced fumbles, and 1.5 sacks.
He played last season at 250 pounds, but now the 6-foot-2 Atkins is weighing 270 pounds and is producing at his new position where his speed and natural athleticism gives him a great advantage.
"We're 3-0 on the season, and I'm the leading tackler again but this time at d-line," he said. "I have 10.5 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and two quarterback hurries. I've played most of the games, but not much against Cooper City because we won that game big.
"I think the move to d-line has been good," he added. "It's a little tougher than linebacker because I'm playing with the offensive linemen so much, but I'm coming along. At linebacker I got to do pass coverage, but not on the line."
Atkins, who rotates between defensive end and defensive tackle, also has great bloodlines. His father, Gene Atkins Sr., was a standout safety at Florida A&M and played several seasons in the National Football League with the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins.
The younger Atkins has used his strong play on the field to secure seven written offers, and he already has a favorite.
"I have seven scholarships on the table," Atkins said. "NC State, Pittsburgh, Toledo, Central Michigan, South Florida, Vanderbilt, the Iowa State Cyclones have offered me."
"NC State is my favorite," he added. "They have a good defensive program, and I like how everybody swarms to the ball. It's a fast-paced defense, and I like watching them on TV."
Atkins is in no rush to make a decision, as he plans on taking official visits after his senior season and then choose his college.
"I will decide after the year is over," he said. "I'm not in any rush. I'm trying to get back to the state championship game. We lost bad there last year, and we want another chance to win it."