– Sgt Shamrock
Junior running back George Atkinson has declared for the 2014 NFL draft and will join Stephon Tuitt as the Irish players who will forego their senior seasons. This should not come as a surprise for Irish fans. Atkinson saw his carries diminish later in the season as Tarean Folston became the feature back in the Irish offense. Add in the very public distain that Atkinson’s father had for the way that Brian Kelly used his son, and it seemed very clear that this was the route that GA3 was going to take.
George Atkinson received a late round grade from the NFL draft advisory board, but I would be very surprised if he is drafted. While he does have the speed that we all have seen during his Irish career, he has shown the inability to break tackles, and tended to run more east and west instead of north and south. At best he will be a late 3rd day pick but will most likely get picked up as an undrafted free agent. Atkinson finishes his Notre Dame career with 943 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns along with 2 kick returns for touchdowns.
– Sgt Shamrock
Notre Dame defeated Rutgers 29-16 in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl played at Yankee Stadium in New York City. The Irish didn’t play their best by far but were still able to come out with the victory. Tommy Rees finished his Notre Dame career with 319 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions even though he threw into double coverage multiple times during the game. The Irish rushed for 175 yards lead by Cam McDaniel and Tarean Folston, as Notre Dame ran a primarily a two back system with George Atkinson suspended for texted at a team dinner (Yes he was really suspended for that. Brian Kelly is not messing around). The Irish defense played pretty well only allowing one touchdown and stopping the Scarlet Knights in the redzone on multiple occasions. Even without Louis Nix in the middle of the defensive line, the Irish were able to put pressure on Rutgers forcing bad passes and multiple turnovers.
The Irish finished the season at 9-4 and move into the offseason with Everett Golson back at Notre Dame. The Irish are going to be hiring a new offensive and defensive coordinator in the coming weeks, and we will all be awaiting Stephon Tuitt’s decision on whether or not to return to Notre Dame for his senior season, or declare for the NFL draft. Check back into Down the Tunnel for an in depth recap of the bowl victory, and upcoming news for Notre Dame football.