Travelers Rest High School hasn't been a hotbed for D1 talent as of late but that all could very well be changing with the emergence of 2012 LB/S Chris Atkins. The junior prospect put together a monster season despite just playing in 6 games last year. SCPrepNation.com caught up with the talented playmaker recently to give you the inside scoop as he's the latest player to be featured in our "UP NEXT" series.
Atkins made a move to linebacker from cornerback last season. Although only playing in just 6 games Atkins ended his season with 87 tackles, an interception, 3 sacks, and 8 tackles for loss. Going through such a big change in position usually doesn't end in great results but his first game at linebacker was his best last year he told us.
"My best game was against Eastside High and it was my first game playing at linebacker. I ended up making 25 tackles against them," Atkins told us.
Despite just seeing action in 6 games the 2012 prospect easily identified his greatest challenge last year in terms of individual prospects.
"The toughest matchup I faced last season had to be between Hakeem Flowers and Blake Hayes, both from Wade Hampton High School. Not only did they have a great offensive line to block for Hayes, but he is a downhill runner, and Flowers was a great receiver with speed so they had threats through the air and ground."
His talents were evident obviously last season with the move to linebacker and Atkins talked about the strengths of his game there and why he had such success, culminating in an all-region selection.
"As a linebacker, I feel like I have a lot of strengths. With my instinct, I pick up the offense's tendencies pretty quickly, my coverage skills are good, I always make sure to make the tackle."
Although still learning the nuances of playing linebacker Atkins has a good idea of what areas he'll be working on this offseason to improve his stock.
"I want to improve in every area to be the best I can be but some of my focuses are on my speed, a faster step can throw the opposing teams off, and getting off the double team because when I moved to linebacker, I wasn't used to so much contact since I played defensive back before."
The Travelers Rest standout says he plans to camp with South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia Tech. He hopes to visit other schools as they become involved with his recruitment. Oklahoma just contacted Atkins and asked for his film and has shown him the most interest so far he says.
During his career Atkins says he's come to really admire an All-Pro safety in the NFL, the same position we're projecting currently for Atkins on the next level.
"I really admire Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is a great safety who can do it all. He has great speed, coverage, instincts, and he is always near the ball. He is always a threat to other teams."
It is still relatively early in the recruiting process for Atkins as he holds no favorites. He's open to hearing from everyone and already has a strong idea as to what he'd like to major in when he gets to college. With a 4.192 GPA currently Atkins is an all-star in the classroom and he talked about what he'll pursue in college and what he'll be looking at closely when choosing a school.
"I am considering a school with a great engineering program because I want to be a computer engineer. Also the coaching staff, facilities, and atmosphere are important to me too."
Currently in the process of maxing out over the next few weeks in the weight room Atkins shared with us his up to date maxes.
"345 pounds on the squat, 240 pound power clean, and 29 1/2 inch vertical."
Atkins is a member of the National Honor Society and says that he will be taking the SAT on March 12th.
Stay tuned to SCPrepNation.com and the Scout.com team as we'll continue to bring you the very latest regarding Chris Atkins and other top prospects here in the Palmetto State first!