HE'S BACK: The Atkins Plan, Pullman bound

THE APPLE CUP doesn't kick off until Saturday afternoon but already Washington State has scored a touchdown of sorts. Uber-athlete Cornorris Atkins (6-3, 205) a safety/receiver who signed with the Cougars in February but ran into academic hurdles, told Cougfan.com that he has secured a qualifying score and will be enrolling at Washington State in January, following an official visit in December.

The past 24 hours has seen a flurry of phone calls from Reseda, Calif., to the Bohler Gym offices in Pullman, as Atkins called, text messaged and spoke with Cougar coaches Bill Doba, Mike Walker and Ken Greene.

"Coach Doba, he sounded excited," said Atkins. "He's waiting for my scores to get sent there because I got my early score off the internet. So he's waiting to get that, get it to their compliance people and get all that paperwork done.

"Coach Greene, he couldn't stop yelling. Coach Walker, I don't know what a smile sounds like over the phone but I think he must have had one from ear to ear...Me and coach Walker hit it off early on. He just showed loyalty to me, and he just kept real with me from the jump."

ATKINS SAID HE'LL TRAVEL to WSU for an official visit on Dec. 2, although he mentioned he's a little antsy and said he might try to get up to Pullman before that for an unofficial, too.

Atkins, who spoke with CF.C last night and today sandwiched around interviews with the L.A. Times and Daily News, continued to receive feelers from other schools this offseason as he worked on getting qualified, but said Wednesday afternoon that Washington State was the place for him, period.

"I'm choosing to stay loyal to coach Doba and his program," said Atkins. "He was loyal to me and that's what I can appreciate most about him...He wants me there because he feels he can make me a better person as well as an athlete."

Atkins said he and Doba also talked about some things he would need to do to earn immediate playing time, and getting after it in spring ball. Also, where Atkins will play is not set in stone, he has the athleticism to make plays on either side of the ball although Greene certainly sees him at safety.

Atkins' playing weight is around 205, although he said he probably weighs 195 or so right now. In high school, he got up around 220 and there was "a little bit" of talk about adding another possible position -- linebacker.

"I was kind of big coming out so they talked to me a little bit about outside 'backer so I kind of on purpose dropped a little bit of weight," laughed Atkins.

ATKINS SPENT THIS fall studying, working a part-time job and keeping in close contact with Greene and the Cougar coaching staff through phone calls and text messages. It was a tough go for a few days back in July, after he learned he did not qualify.

"I felt I just let them all down," said Atkins.

But he said after a man-to-man talk with his stepfather, Dan, and with plenty of support from his family, Atkins told CF.C in the summer he would not be going the junior college route, although there were plenty of suitors. Instead, he said at the time he would continue to take the test, and he fully expected to arrive at Washington State in January.

"I just wanted to prove to myself and to my family that there is something I can accomplish, not only athletically, but academically as well," said Atkins.

Ultimately, Atkins said taking the fall to qualify has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. He worked with a football trainer, Alan Pitts, a former WR recently inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, and picked up several nuances of the game he would not have had this past August coming into his first year in Pullman. Plus, he'll get to go through spring ball next year prior to his first fall camp with the Cougs.

Off the field, Atkins said his work with his tutor and the job he took at Big 5 to pay for the tutoring sessions also taught him how to better communicate and listen.

"Staying home for me, taking a season off, there have only been more benefits," he said.

Cornorris Atkins profile and video

NOTABLE NOTE:
  • Atkins, with a 40 yard dash time of 4.56 his senior year at Grover High in Reseda, Calif., logged 34 tackles his final prep season with two interceptions. He scored 12 TDs, gaining 320 yards on 25 receptions and adding 112 ground yards on 21 carries. He also was an accomplished punt returner.

  • His nickname, Bubba, was given to him by his grandfather as a baby, before he had lost the baby fat.


    CORNORRIS ATKINS


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