ATHENS, Ga. — John Atkins is a mountain of a man in most circles.
The Georgia nose guard and former Thomson standout is 6-foot-6 and 305 pounds, one of the biggest players on the Bulldogs defense and quite a sight at his summer job at Heyward Allen Toyota, where he has served as a greeter for four years now. Customers size him up at first usually.
“They don’t really think I play football until I tell them,” Atkins said. “They say, `’You’ve got to play something around here.’ ”
Atkins this preseason is going up against a more sizable Georgia offensive line that got bigger with the addition of five newcomers.
“They’re huge,” Atkins said.
The most highly-touted is five-star Isaiah Wilson, who has worked at right tackle early in camp while 6-5, 320-pound Andrew Thomas has taken snaps at left tackle. There’s also 6-5, 315-pound junior college transfer D’Marcus Hayes.
Wilson’s 6-foot-7, 345-pound frame stands out even with other rather large men beside him under the tutelage of position coach Sam Pittman, but it’s early.
“Right now you really can’t tell because he’s young,” said outside linebacker Davin Bellamy, who shared the team lead with five sacks last season. “We’ve got the best O-line coach in the world. I’m pretty sure he’ll get Isaiah Wilson right and the sky’s the limit for his potential. To be that big and can move the way he can is very impressive. Like I say, man, I’m a fifth-year senior and he’s a young guy so you kind of know where I’m going with that.”
Atkins told of going mano-a-mano with 6-foor-4, 345-pound freshman offensive guard Justin Shaffer.
“You can tell when he hits you, you get a little numb,” Atkins said. “All of them are getting better. Netori (Johnson), too.”
Johnson was Shaffer’s high school teammate at Cedar Grove. He goes 6-4 and 325.
Atkins is a savvy veteran as a fifth-year senior.
“I’ve got some moves I can hit them with,” he said.