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Monday, August 20, 2012
Top 25 player countdown: No. 10

By Matt Fortuna

No. 10. George Atkinson III, RB

2011 numbers: As a true freshman last season, Atkinson returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, averaging 26.1 yards per return. He added 27 yards and two scores on nine carries.

Making the case for Atkinson: Atkinson made an immediate impact his first year on campus, and his second year might be even better, even if the numbers don't show it. Kickoff rules in place for this season will make big returns less likely, but Atkinson should see some time in the running back/slot receiver role, behind Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick. Carries may be hard to come by given the unit's depth, but Atkinson figures to see enough time to make an impact. His spring-game performance -- 15 carries for 124 yards -- wowed fans and defenders, but he also coughed up the ball twice, so consistency will be a key for him as he matures on the field.