Departing Irish running back George Atkinson III is in Indianapolis getting ready for the NFL Combine. On Friday evening Blue Gold Illustrated published a story on Atkinson opening up on his final season at Notre Dame.
Here are some excerpts. On his suspension for the bowl game:
"It was during team meal and I was on the phone and Coach [Brian] Kelly walked up to me and told me to get off the phone," Atkinson said. "For some stupid reason I decided not to get off right away, and it led to the suspension."
On his communication with Brian Kelly upon leaving school early:
"I didn't get a chance to talk to [Kelly] actually," Atkinson said. "We were playing phone tag back and forth and unfortunately we didn't get a chance to talk with his busy schedule and I was training and stuff."
On why he left:
"I feel like it was the perfect time for me right now," said Atkinson, who said concerns over getting a fair opportunity from the coaching staff next season did not factor into the decision. "I'm 100 percent healthy. I feel like I have enough tape for teams to see and I also had some family issues that need to get cleared up. I feel like I can fix them going to the NFL. Regardless of how high the draft grade is, you have to come out and make a team. You have to feel comfortable in yourself to do that. Currently I feel that way."
Atkinson also mentioned in the BGI article that he considered leaving Notre Dame prior to his junior season and his mother's health helped aid his decision to forego his senior season in South Bend.
So what to make of some of these revelations? You have to give credit to Atkinson for opening up and showing some maturity now that his college career is over. That said, this story can't leave a great taste in your mouth. It's one thing to have an incredible first two years and go out with a bang in your third season before departing early. It's another to have your foot half-way out the door before your third season and end it with a disappointing suspension while out of the two-deep.
I can't imagine Brian Kelly gets the warm and fuzzies thinking about Atkinson's career.
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