Notre Dame suspended running back George Atkinson and cornerback Jalen Brown hours before the Pinstripe Bowl against Rutgers. The school cited a violation of team rules for the suspensions. However, Atkinson explained on Twitter why he believed he was suspended. "For those of you who are wondering I was suspended from today's game for texting friends and family during team meal, as I did all season," he wrote. Atkinson is second on the team with 555 rushing yards and has three rushing touchdowns this season. He also caught seven passes for 55 yards. - The Sports XchangeSaw action in all 12 games with four starts at running back ... also served as Notre Dame's top kick returner ... ranked second on the team with 93 carries and 555 rushing yards ... tied Cam McDaniel for the team lead in rushing TDs (three) ... led team with 6.0 yards-per-rush average ... also caught seven passes for 51 yards ... returned 31 kickoffs for 780 yards ... averaged 25.2 yards per kickoff return to rank 25th in the nation ... his schoolrecord 2,136 career kickoff return yards ranks ninth nationally and second amongst juniors ... had a season-high 139 kickoff return yards in the regular season finale at Stanford (Nov. 30) ... had 131 all-purpose yards at Pittsburgh (Nov. 9), including a 41-yard kick return ... season-high 187 all-purpose yard sum against Navy (Nov. 2) included a 41-yard touchdown run and 113 kick return yards ... had a career-high 148 rushing yards on 14 carries with a touchdown against Oklahoma (Sept. 28) including an 80-yard touchdown run, Notre Dame's longest scamper since Oct. 21, 2000 ... racked up 119 kick return yards, and 157 overall, in the win at Purdue (Sept. 14).
Saw action in 12 games for the Irish (did not play at Oklahoma) ... crucial on special teams and offense ... ranked third on team with 361 rushing yards ... tied for second on the team in rushing touchdowns (five) with Theo Riddick ... led team with 7.1 yards-per-rush average ... added two receptions for four yards ... as a kick returner, known for his speed and agility ... recorded longest kick return of season vs. USC (Nov. 24), racing 39 yards ... had 22 kickoff returns for 441 yards ... averaged 20.0 yards per kick return ... had two touchdown runs against Navy (Sept. 1) in the season opener in Dublin, Ireland ... the first was a 56-yard rush, with the second coming from Navy's three-yard line ... posted first career 100-yard rushing game against Miami (Oct. 6) ... finished with 123 yards on 10 carries against the Hurricanes ... his 12.3 yards per rush average (with a minimum of 10 rushes) ranks sixth in single-game school history ... added his third touchdown of the season on a 55-yard run against the Hurricanes ... had a pair of 50+ yard scoring runs during season.
Played in all 13 games for the Irish, proving to be a key asset on special teams ... returned a pair of kickoffs for touchdowns ... tied school record for most kickoff returns for TDs in a season ... named second-team Freshman All-American by Phil Steele and was an honorable mention All-American by SI.com as a kick returner ... averaged 26.1 yards on 35 kickoff returns and ranked 19th nationally ... the 915 kickoff return yards were the most in a season in school history and the 35 kickoff returns were second most in Notre Dame history ... first TD return was an 89-yarder vs. Michigan State ... second TD return was 96-yarder vs. USC ... the return against the Trojans was the fifth-longest in Notre Dame Stadium history and the longest since Julius Jones went 100 yards against Nebraska on Sept. 9, 2000 ... became first Irish player since Allen Rossum in 1997 to have a pair of kick returns for TDs in a season ... became first freshman with two kickoff returns for TDs in a season since Raghib "Rocket" Ismail in 1988 ... averaged season-best 35.6 yards a return against USC, returning five kicks for 178 yards and a TD ... also registered over 100 yards in a game against Michigan State and Air Force ... averaged 26.1 yards a return on the season ... notched rushing TDs as a reserve running back in games against Air Force and Navy ... also recorded nine tackles on special teams to tie for third on team.
Rated 89th on Rivals.com list of top 100 players nationally ... rushed 172 times for 1,669 yards and 17 TDs in 2010 as running back, wide receiver and defensive back for Granada High School in Livermore, Calif. ... top games featured 206 rushing yards on five carries and three TDs vs. Castro Valley (and a 60-yard punt return for a TD), plus rushing games of 202 yards vs. Amador Valley (TD runs of 26, 68 and 71), 178 vs. Livermore and 177 vs. College Park (also 157 receiving yards in that second-round playoff game) ... named Bay Area News Group athlete of the week after win over Amador Valley ... 41-16 win over Castro Valley included a 79-yard TD run and three Atkinson TDs in the first 90 seconds of the game ... also caught 27 passes for 678 yards and six TDs, including five for 167 and two TDs vs. Sierra ... made 23 tackles and broke up 10 passes as free safety on defense, helping team to 8-5 record after loss to power De La Salle in California high school North Coast Section Division I playoff semifinals as Matadors reached playoffs for first time since 2005 ... scored game-wining TD in second overtime in first playoff game vs. Freedom ... scored on plays of 68, 55 and 65 yards in playoff game vs. College Park ... first-team pick as utility player on all-metro squad ... played in U.S. Army All-American Bowl and served as captain of West team.First-team all-East Bay Athletic League pick for 2010 at running back and a second-team all-league pick at defensive back ... third-team all-East Bay in 2010 as utility player as selected by Bay Area News Group ... played in Holiday Classic between Sacramento and Bay Area standouts ... selected for Team USA vs. The World all-star game in Austin, Texas ... carried 106 times as junior in 2009 for 965 yards and 10 TDs, caught 13 passes for 260 yards and one TD and had 295 yards in kickoff returns ... scored four TDs in 2009 opener vs. Antioch and later rushed 11 times for 200 yards (TD runs of 65, 80 and 20, plus a 95-yard kickoff return for a TD) vs. Foothill ... second-team all-EBAL defensive back as junior ... had TD runs of 51, 14 and 23 yards as sophomore in 2008 in 56-15 victory over Livermore ... standout in track who earned medals in California state track meet in 100 (third at 10.66) and 200 meters (fourth at 21.46) as sophomore in 2009.
Father is former all-pro Oakland Raider defensive back George Atkinson Jr. who played professionally with Raiders from 1968-77, helped Oakland to Super Bowl XI title and now is part of Raider radio broadcast team ... twin brother Josh will be a junior in 2013 ... played for coach Tim Silva at Granada High School ... son of George Atkinson and Michelle Martin ... enrolled in College of Arts and Letters, majoring in film, television and theatre.
- Running back George Atkinson III has become the third Notre Dame player this offseason to skip his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL draft. Atkinson joins defensive linemen Louis Nix III and Stephon Tuitt in declaring for the NFL after the Irish finished the season 9-4 and ranked No. 21. While Nix and Tuitt have been projected as potential first-round picks by some, Atkinson is projected as a later-round pick. "He look at as an opportunity," Atkinson's father, former Oakland Raiders great George Atkinson Jr., said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "We did our due diligence and decided to roll the dice with it."
Atkinson started the season listed as Notre Dame's starting back, but finished second in yards and carries with 555 yards on 93 attempts. He saw his carries diminish as the season wore on and freshman Tarean Folston got more carries. Coach Brian Kelly said Atkinson didn't consistently run tough enough. The Irish already have a crowded backfield with Folston and leading rusher Cam McDaniel returning as well as Amir Carlisle and Greg Bryant, who sat out last season after knee surgery. Atkinson was suspended from playing in the Pinstripe Bowl for violating an unspecified team rule. He tweeted he was suspended for texting friends and family during a team meal. His father said neither the suspension nor the crowded backfield played roles in his son's decision. "The time was just right to make that move," he said. - AP Sports