Atkinson Fired Up About Future

The Notre Dame coaching staff is taking advantage of the off week to get out and do some recruiting work. Part of that is solidifying the current commitments for the 2011 class. Earlier this week a couple Notre Dame coaches paid a visit to cornerback Josh Atkinson of Granada High School (Livermore, Calif.)

"Coach (Tony) Alford and coach (Tim) Hinton came by Sunday," Josh Atkinson said. "We talked about their visit to New York, the USC game, school and a bunch of stuff like that.

"We joked around a lot, so it was pretty cool."

The Notre Dame coaches were still on the West Coast after leading the Irish to a victory over USC on Saturday. Josh has a playoff game about the same time, but he made sure he watched his future teammates when he had a chance.

"We had a TV in the locker room, but we only got to see the first quarter and then we had to go out and warm up," he said. "We taped the game, so after our game, we got to watch the whole thing with my dad.

"It was amazing. We're on the rise. Even though we went through adversity through the season, they kept their composure and keep winning. It was huge. I was just excited about everything.

The Notre Dame defense is a big reason the Irish were able to win their final three games. It's a defense that seems to have found its identity late in the season and one that Josh is excited to play for.

"Everybody has been making plays on defense and they've been basically shutting down just about every team they've played for the last three or four weeks," he explained. "There wasn't a touchdown for about 11 quarters… that's huge.

"I can't wait until we get up there. I think I can contribute to the defense with my speed. I'm looking forward to just getting up there and making this defense even better than it is now.

"You can tell that they're a whole different team now," he said. "It's something that you can feed off of and it'll be exciting to be a part of a program like that."

While watching the replay, Josh likes to study what the defense is doing throughout the game, but as a fan he has a couple Notre Dame players he likes to follow.

"Gray Gray's my dude," Atkinson said. "That's my guy. I always look at how he plays. We hit each other on Facebook and he tells me what to expect when I get up there. I always check out how he plays.

"Manti Te'o is a beast. I always look at him and the way he tackles. My dad really likes Prince Shembo. He thinks he's going to a guy that's going to be really good."

Te'o and Shembo are two players that were able to make their mark as freshman and Atkinson hopes that he can follow in their footsteps.

"When I look at Shembo, I look at it like I have a wide open opportunity to be able to make an impact on the team early if I work hard," he said. "That's something that helps me push myself even more. That's one of my goals, to say that I went to Notre Dame and played as a true freshman.

"I told the coaches that I'll play anything, corner or free safety. I'll get on kick-off, or kick return… anything. Any way I can get on the field early, I'll take advantage of it."

Friday night Granada (8-4) will face De La Salle (11-0) in a North Coast Sectional Semifinal game. Granada will be looking to get payback for an early season 52-7 loss to De La Salle.

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