Florida produced some of the nation’s elite defensive backs last season in players like J.R. Bryant, Trevor Ford, McIntosh Nicolas, Dawayne Grace and Kyle Jackson.
While it remains unseen if the Sunshine State’s Class of 2005 can match that group in the secondary, one name that will be popping up on recruiting boards from coast to coast is Daytona Beach Mainland’s Avery Atkins.
Atkins (6-2, 190, 4.4) was a Class 5A all-state selection as a junior in helping lead the Buccaneers to a 13-1 record and the state championship. He recorded 39 tackles, six pass break-ups, three interceptions and two forced fumbles.
“I’ve been told he’s going to be one of the top three defensive backs in the country next year,” Mainland coach John Moronto said. “Miami and Florida State have been watching him close since he was a sophomore, and last year they informed us that they’ll be offering him a scholarship. We feel like he’s going to have offers from all over the country before too long. Everybody who sees him just raves about him.”
And what makes Atkins so special?
“Coaches love a 6-2 corner who can run a 4.35 forty,” Moronto said. “You just can’t find too many people that big who can run like that. He can match up with all the big receivers, or cover the speed guys. He has great cover skills, real good timing and instincts. Plus, he’s aggressive. He’ll come up and hit you. He’s just a playmaker.”
Atkins also doubled as a running back last season, rushing for 513 yards and eight touchdowns on only 61 carries.
"He could be a great running back," Moronto said. "I think some people may look at him on both sides of the ball, but he brings an awful lot to the table as a defensive back."
Moronto said Atkins doesn’t list a favorite school at this point in his recruitment.
“I think he’s open-minded,” he said. “He’s getting so much attention, he’s just enjoying that right now.”