July 2, 2008

Rebels try to sway Georgia linebacker

Jonathan Atchison has three clear favorites in the race for his services.

However, the three-star outside linebacker from Atlanta (Douglass), Ga., isn't quite ready to pull the trigger on a commitment just yet, thanks in large part to interest from and in a pair of Southeastern Conference programs from the Magnolia State.

Atchison, a 6-foot-3, 216-pounder ranked No. 57 in the country at his position by Rivals.com, said Tuesday that Central Florida, Alabama and Auburn _ in no particular order _ are his leaders. However, Ole Miss and Mississippi State have him intrigued enough to consider a couple of ventures into Mississippi later this month.

"I do want to see a couple of places before I make a decision, but those three are my favorites as of now," Atchison said. "Central Florida, I liked the whole campus life. I went down there and stayed for a couple of days during my spring break. I liked it. When I went to Auburn, I got to work with (AU linebackers) Coach (James) Willis and we bonded real good. He has the personality of one of my old coaches when I played little league ball. With Alabama, I like the facilities, the coaches are great and the fan base is real, real nice."

Atchison, who had 110 tackles and 12 sacks as a junior, has offers from Alabama, Auburn, Central Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi State, West Virginia, Rutgers, Maryland, Ole Miss and East Carolina, among others. He's camped this summer at Clemson and Auburn.

"I'm supposed to be going to Alabama's camp this month and most likely, I'm going to Mississippi State for a visit and back to Auburn for an unofficial visit," Atchison said. "I was invited to the Ole Miss camp on July 26 and most likely I'll be down there, but I'm not sure yet."

Georgia native Tracy Rocker is recruiting Atchison for Ole Miss, and his presence on the Rebels' staff has Atchison intrigued.

"One of my old coaches grew up with Coach Rocker," Atchison said. "Basically, all I really know about Ole Miss is on their website. I haven't been down there. I remember talking to Coach Rocker when he came down in the spring."

On the field, Atchison's best attribute right now is his speed. He's been clocked in the 40-yard dash at 4.54 seconds, but he wants to get bigger and stronger before he begins taking on Division I offensive linemen.

"I have room to improve as far as size," Atchison said. "I have the athleticism, but I do want to play early. I'm athletic and fast. I get to the ball, strip the ball and I'm a good tackler. I have room to get bigger. I can improve on my agility."

Atchison said Tuesday he'd really like to see Mississippi State and Ole Miss and "probably Tennessee and Kentucky" before committing to Central Florida or one of the Iron Bowl participants. Could one of those schools sway him and cause a change of heart?

"I guess I would just have to see how bad they want me," Atchison said.

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