Bill Atkins | University of Minnesota Duluth | DB
Q: Tell us about your college (or pro) career and what the recruiting/scouting process was like. Why did you choose UMD?
A: I wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school, nor am I heavily recruited now. I had a couple of D1 preferred walk on offers and some other D2 scholarship offers to play both WR and DB. I made my decision to go UMD after taking an official visit with my family and being pleased with the team atmosphere. I also enjoyed the defensive scheme and how much responsibility and freedom the safety position had.
Q: What would you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your sports career so far?
A: My biggest accomplishment is being voted team captain by my teammates and coaches during my senior season. As I stated previously, I’ve never been heavily recruited or considered a ‘top prospect’, so for my peers to recognize the hard work and natural leadership qualities that I possess meant a lot to me.
Q: What do you consider to be one of the more important things you learned from the coaching staff while playing at UMD?
A: One of the most important things that I learned from one of my DB coaches was process over product. Meaning that even if the product is what you want it to be, if the process you used to achieve that product isn’t efficient, it becomes meaningless. For example, if I were to make a tackle in a game but before that tackle I got a bad read and took some false steps and the ball carrier got an extra few yards, that tackle has little meaning and won’t help me in the future because of my inefficiency. Yes the product was a tackle, but if I were to have went through my process correctly, I would’ve made that tackle in the backfield. Another example would be like building a house without a solid foundation. Yes you have a house, but it’s bound to come crashing down in a crisis.
Q: How was your career impacted due to the 2020 pandemic and what have you learned from the adversity? A: My Pro Day was cancelled in 2020 and I didn’t get any opportunity to show that I could play at the professional level. I learned to not take my missed opportunity personal, because I wasn’t the only one in that situation. Instead, I used this extra year to my advantage and worked on my weaknesses. I knew the only thing that would separate me from others is my response to the adversity.
Q: What was your major and what are your plans if football doesn’t work out?
A: I was an Exercise Science/Kinesiology major. I currently work as a sports performance coach part- time. If football doesn’t work, I’ll start helping others achieve their dreams full time.
Q: What would your current/past teammates say about you and your qualities?
A: I’m a relentless competitor. A good person. Someone that’s dependable and willing to sacrifice for my team and loved ones.
Q: What has been one of the most memorable plays of your career at any level?
A: One of my most memorable plays would be me forcing a fumble at U Mary and my best friend from high school recovering the fumble and scoring a defensive touchdown.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge and how do you manage it?
A: My biggest challenge has been coming from a D2 school and not being properly advertised or prepared for playing at the next level. I’ve learned a lot from attending the College Gridiron Showcase in Texas, and also training with pro athletes and top notch performance coaches over this past year. Just seeing what it takes and being able to compare and improve myself from watching those guys has been helpful.
Q: If you could compare yourself to a pro athlete, who would that be and why?
A: I would compare myself to Micah Hyde. We’re both similar stature and fairly athletic. We’re not freaks of nature physically but we use our sneaky fast and quick abilities to gain advantage. Both never really heavily recruited but found a way to make an impact and turn heads when we got our opportunity to. We’re both versatile players that can play multiple positions on the defense and also special teams.
Q: What is your biggest strength that you bring to a professional team and why should pro scouts consider you?
A: My biggest strength is consistency and availability. You know what you’re going to get from me every day, which is maximum effort and energy. I also take pride in taking care of my body and being on time.
Q: Are you involved in mentoring, a charity or do you “give back” or ”pay it forward” in your community? A: I am the former President of Black Men Serving Excellence, BMSE, which is now a school organization at UMD. Our mission was “creating a bond of brotherhood with like-minded individuals. To cultivate young black leaders, and to strive for excellence in all of our endeavors. I am now an alumni that still contributes to meetings and events that the group holds.
I’m a relentless competitor. A good person. Someone that’s dependable and willing to sacrifice for my team and loved ones.
Q: How are you preparing for the 2021 National Scouting Combine and what are your goals?
A: I’m currently participating in Combine Prep at the Training HAUS in Eagan, MN under performance coach, Bill Welle.
Q: What would be your ultimate achievement?
A: Playing in the National Football League
Q: What do you enjoy doing when not playing football?
A: Spending time with family and friends. Listening to music.
Q: If you could make a positive impact on all of society what would it be and why?
A: Close the wealth gap between ethnicities. This would allow for a more fluid society, decrease crime, and allow all to have equal opportunity.
Q: Who is or has been the most influential person in your life?
A: My mom. We’ve been through a lot together and we disagree on a lot of things but she is my constant support.
Q: What is something unique about you that people would find interesting?
A: I have 10 inch hands
Q: What is your dream job?
A: NFL Safety