Once a Paladin, Always a Paladin
The Southern Conference has postponed all fall sports this year, but one Paladin will still be taking the field. However, this time it will be in a light blue jersey representing UNC-Chapel Hill football. Grayson Atkins ‘20 graduated from Furman last spring and has joined the UNC program as a graduate student with one year of eligibility remaining.
In his final season at Furman, Atkins lit up the stat sheet as well as the score board going 7-of-9 on field goals from 40+ yards including a 55 yard make and 13-15 overall. For his incredible performance, he was voted an All-American by the FCS Coaches association and the Associated Press. The back to back consensus first team all-conference man ranks tenth in career scoring at Furman and fifth overall in kick scoring with 231 points. Across his final two seasons, Atkins managed 18 consecutive made field goals setting a Southern Conference record in the process.
Atkins entered the transfer portal last December saying that he wanted the “opportunity to have a graduate degree paid for through football to further my career after football ends.” He went on to add that “unfortunately, this is an opportunity that Furman does not currently offer.” Atkins graduated Furman with a degree in communications. He will be provided a multitude of opportunities at UNC, which boasts one of the top digital communications programs in the country.
On the football field, it is still up in the air who will be jogging out there for the opening kickoff of the UNC 2020 season. Currently, Atkins is in the middle of a two-way battle for the starting job. As preparation under COVID-19 protocols continues, the Tar Heels head into week 1 against Syracuse. Following last week’s intra-team scrimmages, hall of fame head coach Mack Brown said that the kicking game has been “good, not great,” and left the kicker position open on the week one depth chart. Although Atkins was an All-Southern Conference punter, averaging 43.5 yards per punt last season, he will not be continuing that role at UNC.
Atkins joins the Tar Heels at an interesting time. The program is entering coach Brown’s second year as UNC head coach. The buzz around the program has increased dramatically. With promising times ahead and a feeling of returning to success, Atkins joins a team that holds a lot more expectations than in years past.
Grayson Atkins is excited to begin this next chapter, 4 hours north of the Upstate. But one thing remains true: once a Paladin, always a Paladin. The Furman community will be watching closely as the Tar Heels take the field for the first time on September 12.