My Grandfather always says, “Well, it’s time to put up or shut up.” The meaning of this no nonsense statement is that it is your time. No more excuses. No more second chances.
Although Brian Kelly did not say those exact words in his press conference on Tuesday, anyone listening would get the feeling that it was time for the Junior Running Back to shine. If he failed, there were other players who would take his place.
Kelly announced that Atkinson gained 11 pounds to bring him to a formidable 218. The key to this gain is that he did not lose his trademark speed that has allowed him to return kicks for touchdowns and turn a short run into the homerun.
Additionally, Atkinson made some serious gains on the bench press. Previously, he could only do 5 reps of 225. Now, he can rep the bar 19 times. To put that number in perspective, he would be 1 rep behind the top performers in the bench press in the 2013 Draft. Kenjon Barner had 20 reps at the combine.
However, many players cannot combine the size, speed and strength that Atkinson can. He has an opportunity to be an every down back that can carry the load for the Fighting Irish. Being much bigger and stronger should help Atkinson run between the tackles. Now, he needs to learn to do that too. With Atkinson, it will not be a question of talent. It may be a question of when the light bulb goes on.