Junior Running Back George Atkinson III Declares Early for the NFL

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The enigmatic speedster from California is going to roll the dice and leave Notre Dame a season early.

After losing Stephon Tuitt to the NFL a year early on Sunday night just 3 days later another Irish ball player is moving on as well.

In some ways this is not surprising. Atkinson was recently suspended for the Pinstripe Bowl, his father made some rather disparaging remarks about the program, and it's probably true that the feelings between the Atkinson family and Brian Kelly weren't all that wonderful.

Still, Atkinson is a very raw prospect even after finishing his true junior season at Notre Dame. He certainly has potential, but it's bound to turn some heads when an upperclassman declares for the NFL after finishing the year as a 3rd string ball carrier.

Blue Gold Illustrated interviewed George's father and he had this to say:

"I guess it's like anything else when you feel you're ready for something and the time is proper for you. If you have an opportunity why not try to seize it? It was nothing other than a conscious decision based on opportunity. He feels he's ready for it."

Atkinson received a late-round grade from the NFL and plans on returning to finish up his degree at some point. His twin brother Josh will apparently remain at Notre Dame for his senior season.

GA3 leaves South Bend with 943 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns for his career. In total, Atkinson produced 3,144 all-purpose yardage on the strength of 2,136 career kick return yards.

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