Look around.

They are lost among us.

The strong, skilled blockers that remove imminent danger presented by the opposing defense.. The power runner that can be – at a moments notice- called upon to pick up one yard during a critical play in the season……and perhaps never again. The position that is filled with players humble enough to know they won’t be highly-regardedd. Confident enough to know they serve as one of the most important roles of the offense.

The College Fullback has faded towards extinction, but still a vital part of situational offense. Louisville Head Coach Charlie Strong serves as a testament to that. He had one – the ‘Henryville Bowling Ball’ Griffin Uhl is injured for an undetermined amount of time. Uhl was last seen in Week 3  of the College Football season and has been MIA since with a shoulder injury still being described as a ‘stinger’. In has absence, Louisville needed to find somebody – anybody – to feel the void. The search was not relatively easy for the Louisville Coaching Staff, as stated above, they are a rare bread –  but now they can stop looking. Meet Redshirt Freshman and newly transformed from LB to FB, Lamar Atkins.

“We needed a lead-back with physicality. And we moved him over from defense and right away he took that role. He’s a physical presence out there with his lead blocking,” Offensive Coordinator Shawn Watson explained. “”We were looking for a guy to play the fullback role. We kind of did an audition out here one day and found ‘LA’. He’s a willing soul.”

A willing soul indeed.

Atkins has caught 2 passes during his career at Louisville. He’s never attempted a rush. At his previous spot of Linebacker, he’s made two total tackles. Spare the stats though. Now none of that seems to matter. Atkins has catapulted his level of importance within the Louisville Football program.

Now he can be found in the Louisville backfield on nearly every two-back play. For the foreseeable future – he is one of the most critical players on the Louisville Cardinal Football team.

A single domino in a stack of many. But this domino is much different, that’s because if it’s left fallen it could have dire consequence for the Louisville Football team.

Brother of Sophomore LB Keith Brown, Atkins is the last line of defense when it comes to protecting Louisville’s most prized possession –  Teddy Bridgewater.

“You have to have a lead back. In order to be productive, when people start loading the box, you need that extra body. It can’t be a lineman – it needs to be a back,” RB Coach Kenny Carter noted. “Love em. Love em. He’s got all the tools that a lead blocker needs to have. He’s got ball skills. He’s very physical. When you take a guy from linebacker to fullback, you know that he’s already got the skill to take people on. He does that really well. We like that he’s got a lot of punch and he’ll take people on.”

Bringing that punch comes naturally to Atkins. Before taking on a redshirt at Louisville, Atkins played LB for four years at Miami Norland High School under Daryle Heidelburg, one of the most respected High School Football coaches in Florida. There, Atkins made over 60 tackles his Senior Season and was rated as one of the best 150 LBs in the Country by ESPN. Now all that’s changed is hitting people on one side of the ball and a slower pace.

“It was a good move, I think. I really like it a lot. I love to be the leader-blocker,” Atkins said. “It’s been a better experience on this side of the ball. It’s slower than defense, obviously because they gotta react what we gotta do.”

It wasn’t quick for Atkins.

Before we switch you could count on your hands how many times Atkins had played linebacker in a game at Louisville.

“Naw, I never got worried at all,” He explained. “I was just focused on doing my job and just getting better each day.”

Atkins has found a home within the Louisville Football system.

Another instance where the Louisville Coaching Staff has took a player away from a natural role and made them a better player at another position. Their latest project, the one involved taking DE Marcus Smith from a Quarterback to a linebacker and finally to a DE, has now came full circle. Marcus Smith is now registering in the Top Ten of the Country in the Nation’s Sack Count. Louisville hopes to strike gold with another position change. By all early accounts from the Coaching Staff, that seems like a likely outcome. As for Atkins, he’s settled in to his new home.

“Not really [I have no interest in changing]. I’ll stay here at fullback,”

 

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Chris Hatfield

Residing in Louisville, KY (via Bardstown, KY). I write things about Louisville Sports. Sometimes you'll like them. Follow me @_ChrisHatfield Email me at chatfield60@gmail.com

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