Sophomore speedster Ladell Atkins

St. Bonventure sophomore wide receiver proves that big things can come in small packages. After breaking open a scoreless tie against Redlands East Valley Friday night, Atkins immediately grabbed the attention of two Pac-12 colleges in attendance.

Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure sophomore wide out Ladell Atkins was an unknown in most Pac-12 recruiting circles, but with coaches from California and Oregon State on hand for the Seraphs win over Redlands East Valley Friday, the secret is out.

At 5-foot-7, 160-pounds, Atkins may be small, but after gashing Redlands East Valley for a 64-yard touchdown run on a fly sweep and 50-yard reception on a deep pass from quarterback Ricky Town, his name will be associated with big plays.

“I balled out on the freshman team last year, so that’s what I’m trying to do playing varsity this year,” said Atkins. “The main focus is just to win as many games as possible and lead our receiving corps. in catches.”

Atkins speed, and more specifically, his quickness made him a nightmare for the Wildcats to defend. However, in addition to playing wide out, Atkins also had several big pass breaks ups on Redlands East Valley four-star running back and Oregon commit, Malik Lovette.

That speed is already well documented among his teammates. St. Bonaventure also features Lavan Alston at wide out, who is a 10.74 sprinter in the 100-meters for the Seraphs track team.

“In the 100-meters, Lavan will get him,” said junior Seraph linebacker Daelin Hayes. “But on the football field, or the 40-yards dash, Ladell is gone. No contest.”

Atkins doesn’t have a preference for which side of the football he plays, but he is cognizant of how much more time consuming the offensive playbook is.

“I’m really trying to get better playing the slot this season because I still have a lot to learn at that position,” Atkins. “I want to improve because you never know everything no matter how much success you have.”

But Atkins wasn’t a complete unknown coming into the season. Last summer he worked out at the Arizona Wildcat Camp.

“That was exciting because it was my first time having a conversation with a college coach,” said Atkins. “It was great to feel like I was finally getting a chance to set up my future life. I was getting a chance to accomplish my goals to play college football.

“I talked to Coach Rich Rod, and he gave off a really good vibe. The coaches really like my performance. Then the players there showed me around campus and were really friendly too. It was really nice.”

Friday night, Cal and Oregon State were on the side lines, with the Beavers mascot also at the game for good measure.

“Those coaches talked to my coaches after the game asking about me,” said Atkins. “I think they just wanted to see who I was and what I was about.”

Going forward Atkins has two more schools he’d really like to hear from.

USC and the other would be Oregon,” said Atkins. “USC is close to home and it’s a really nice school. The campus is amazing. I went to one of their camps, but I was just watching, I didn’t participate.

“With Oregon, I just love their offense. It’s all about speed, and me being that type of athlete, I feel like that offense would fit me. I’m a fast, hard working two-way player. I work really hard to achieve my goals, but I make friends with everyone.”

Atkins, who managed to win five Pop Warner Super Bowls in a row playing youth football, grew up playing quarterback.

“The transition to receiver has been easier than I thought it would be,” said Atkins. “Right now, I’m lined up in the slot, so I’m usually lined up against a linebacker or a safety.

“I walk up to the line and I read the defense and figure out what coverage they're in. Then I know what route I’m going to run. From there I tell myself that I know I’m getting open.”

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