Dixie pipeline: Tight end commits to Bulls
No high school has had as consistent a stream of players contribute to USF football the way Dixie Hollins in St. Petersburg has, and that pipeline will continue in 2009, as Gerard Atkins, a 6-foot-5, 215-pound tight end, has orally committed to play for USF next season.
"Gerard is a big kid who played wideout for us," Dixie Hollins coach Mike Morey said. "He's a good mismatch because no corner is within six or seven inches of him, so we get a lot of jump-ball touchdowns with him."
Morey said USF envisions using Atkins much the same way as current Bulls senior Cedric Hill, who was a high school wideout who has shined as a "flex" tight end who can run routes like a receiver. Atkins committed to assistant coaches Sunday and was meeting with Jim Leavitt on Monday to make a pledge in person to the head coach. He follows a long line of Dixie Hollins players to USF, including quarterback Marquel Blackwell, receiver DeAndrew Rubin and running back Andre Hall.
"We've had a bunch, and Gerard has been wanting to commit to USF all along," Morey said. "There's a chance to play big-time college football, and it's just across the bridge."
The key to Atkins' breakout in the second half of last season? A trip to the optometrist. Atkins had problems dropping passes, and coaches had suspected a vision problem. Sure enough, a trip to the eye doctor showed he had 20-70 vision in both eyes, and he had all of his touchdowns and most of his catches in the second half, where contact lenses radically reduced his drops. Morey estimated his final stats as 15 catches for 300 yards and four touchdowns.
-- Another quiet game in the NBA summer league for former USF center Kentrell Gransberry. Playing for the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night, Gransberry played less than two minutes for the second straight game, getting two fouls and one rebound. At this point, the playing time shows he's not in Detroit's plans, so he'll likely have to choose between playing overseas or in a smaller pro league stateside.