LSU senior kicker Avery Atkins is already occupying a rare role as one of the few combination kickoff specialists and punters in the nation.
Wednesday, Atkins again notched a rare achievement being named as a semifinalist for the 2021 William V. Campbell Trophy, given annually to the nation’s top scholar-athlete.
If he becomes a finalist, Atkins, who has a 3.62 GPA in Human Sciences, would receive an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship and would be honored at the National Football Foundation’s annual awards dinner Dec. 7 in Las Vegas.
The Auburn game is a special week for Atkins, who was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and grew up in Auburn. He’s engaged to his high school sweetheart, who comes from a family of Georgia fans. Mostly though, Atkins said he hears from plenty of friends from back home on this week.
“There’s a lot of chatter on the phone,” he said. “I put my high school friends group chat on ‘Do not disturb’ so I don’t look at it. A lot of my friends are coming down for the game.”
One of two players selected to wear the coveted No. 18 this season along with linebacker Damone Clark, Atkins is averaging 40.5 yards per kick on 22 punts this season and has 20 touchbacks in 24 kickoffs.
Jontre Kirklin and Soni Fonua, both fifth-year seniors, had missed the last four games because of academic issues.