February 20, 2009

Atkins taking his shot ..put

Standing straight, the muscular shot-putter places his feet shoulder width apart. He pauses, stopping to make sure he has a slight bend in the knees.

Geno Atkins is now ready to make his throw. Yes, that Geno Atkins.

Although he's better known as a standout defensive tackle on the Georgia football team, the rising senior is no slouch as a member of the Bulldogs' track and field team, either.

Although he doesn't brag or make a big deal about his two-sport status, Atkins excels a both as evidenced by his first place finish at the recent Carle/Health Alliance Classic recently at the University of Illinois.

"I think most people are shocked that I do that, too," said Atkins, who won the meet with a season-best throw of 55.65 feet. "Most don't know that I do the shot put and that I'm a two-sport athlete. People always wonder how I have time to concentrate on my schoolwork with football practice, track practice and traveling with the track team."

Atkins chucked that sometimes he asks himself that same question.

"It's tough. Between mat drills, weight lifting, going to practice and all that it can be somewhat of a grind," he said. "But I push through it to make sure I get my work done."

Atkins isn't a novice. Actually, he's far from it.

The 6-foot-1, 290-pounder threw the shot put all four of his years at St. Thomas Aquinas High in Pembroke Pines, Fla., and actually grew pretty proficient at the event.

In other words, Atkins can explain the steps throwing the shot put properly with ease.

For example, with your dominant hand, hold the shot put just like you would hold a baseball. The hand should be cupped as if you were to try and hold a bit of water.

Then, after placing the shot on your neck, move your hand directly below the ear and turn the wrist so that the fingers are facing the back of the neck. After that, the shot put Is place on the skin of the neck below the ear before getting into crouching position to launch the iron ball as far as you can through the air.

"I still don't have enough time to practice like I need to," Atkins said. "I only practice twice a week, and that's really not enough time to develop my technique."

Atkins smiled that it's actually too bad. With a little more work, he believes he could become even better than he is.

"I think I could do good," Atkins said. "I think I could throw it at least 60 feet with the proper technique."

Atkins was asked if any of his football teammates could excel in track and field as well.

"Jeff Owens talks that he can throw the shot put but when I went against him in high school I won," Atkins laughed. "But Jeff can throw the shot. But Carlton (Thomas) I'm sure could run the 100 and 200, Bryan Evans can run. Cordy Glenn could probably do the weight or the shot."

Atkins will get to prove his work Feb. 27 when he joins the rest of his teammates for the SEC Indoor Championship in Lexington, Ky.

He's anxious to see if he can add another first place medal to his resume.

"We'll see what happens," Atkins said. "I'm just looking forward to going out and doing my best."

NOTE: Atkins was also asked whether sprinter Torrin Lawrence could return kicks or play some other type of role for the football team. Lawrence was recently chocked up what was the world's top 400-meter dash time (an NCAA provisional qualifying 46.18) of 2009 to win the Tyson Invitational.

"I think it's a little bit different. I don't know if he'd be able to take all that abuse and hitting," Atkins said. "I know he's fast, but I haven't talked to him about it yet."

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