[vc_row][vc_column][vc_btn title=”Visit KJ Atkins Beyond Sports Network Profile” color=”blue” align=”center” link=”url:https%3A%2F%2Fwww.beyondsportsnetwork.com%2Fmembers%2Fkj-atkins%2Fprofile%2F||target:%20_blank” button_block=”true”][vc_column_text letter_spacing=””]Q: What was the recruiting process like for you and why did you choose New Mexico?

Coming out of High School I was 6’1 240, and I remember going on recruiting visits to SDSU and Oregon. It was definitely challenging because I didn’t qualify with my grades, so I had to end up at the JuCo level. After the 2010 season, I received interest from UNM because at the time I was playing fullback, and they were the only school that gave me a shot to play. In College football, fullbacks are all but rare. I chose UNM because they looked at me hard and gave me an opportunity.

 

Q: What would you consider to be your biggest accomplishment in your college career?

Going from fullback, to Nose guard and learn different tactics of the game and understanding the position. It wasn’t an easy transition whatsoever. I did it and it made me mentally tough to rise up to a challenge and deliver. Also entering 2011 as a boy, and walking out of graduation in 2013 as a man.

 

Q. What is the most important thing you learned from the New Mexico Coaching Staff?

To prepare for the best and expect the worst. In College, you’re going to have depth at every position, almost a 3-5 man rotation. You prepare to start and play, but expect to sit back and learn. The biggest thing for me was humbleness, and understand in life, you’re not always going to get what you want. How are you going to respond when you face adversity? So for me its just work on your craft, stay humble and stay after it and when your time comes, be prepared to go

Also staying locked in and focused on every task at hand, whether it be in the weight room, film room, on the field, off the field, classroom. Treat every aspect as the most important thing ever to you and prepare to attack it.

 

Q: What were some of the challenges you faced during your career that you believe strengthened your resolve and ability to compete at the pro level?

My senior year during the 2013 season, I got hurt in spring ball and during the season. I had serious injuries that I had to basically medically retire and not finish my college career.

In 2014 I joined a semi pro team to gain film because I didn’t have a whole lot and I lost weight and change positions. I realized I needed film to see where it could lead to and see what could happen. In 2015 I was invited to 2 AFL tryouts with San Jose Sabercats and Las Vegas Outlaws. It was after San Jose in May, I knew I could compete in the AFL and ever since, I have been hungry to play football to compete at the professional level.

 

Q: You recently signed with the MLFB Team Alabama. What are your expectations for the first year league and playing at the professional level?

My expectations should be like any athlete coming into this league, and that is to make the team. Nothing is given just because we see our name on the team roster. My mindset going in is give it all you got every day during practice and find reasons for them not to send you home. That’s why we do this. I don’t have any reason to feel I am entitled for the MLFB or really, any professional league, because I haven’t earned anything. All I earned was a name on a MLFB roster and that’s not even final.

 

Q. If you could compete against any professional athlete who would that be and why?

If I am rushing the quarterback, I would love to go against Joe Thomas. Joe Thomas has been a dominant Tackle in the NFL for the past 10 years.

If I were covering a TE, I would love to compete against Rob Gronkowski. How would you not want to compete against a 6’6 TE? If you want to be the best, you need to compete against the best.

 

Q: Who is or has been the most influential person in your life?

If we are talking about non-family members, I would have to go with former Nebraska Cornhusker, former 1st round draft pick Adam Carriker. He has been a role model for me for the past 5 years and talking with him has been the greatest thing that has ever happened to me as far as getting me mentally and physically prepared for football-especially the business side in any level. He always has been a mentor for me and always has prepped me on what to expect and don’t expect in the business side of football.

 

Q: What are your goals with football? If football does not work out do you have a “plan B”?

My goal with football is to the play the highest level of football I can compete at, whether it is NFL, CFL, AFL. I understand playing in the NFL is a reach, not just for me, but also for every athlete. It is the hardest thing to accomplish for us athletes. With that being said, for me, I just want to play the highest level of football I can physically and mentally compete in.

If playing football doesn’t work out, I will get into coaching football. I am going into my 2nd year of coaching High School football this upcoming fall. My goal is to coach in the collegiate level.

Q. Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by?

Worry about today; don’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow. You can’t get to tomorrow if you don’t get through today and it does no good worrying about the previous day. Focus on your task at hand.

 

Q: What would be your ultimate achievement?

My ultimate achievement is kind of what I said earlier, is to play the highest level of football I possibly can. Its not failure if you cant reach the NFL, CFL, AFL. Its just an understanding and a reminder, that playing any level of professional football is not easy.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]