Cavs’ Atkins a busy man

Published 1:15 pm Friday, November 10, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

HOGANSVILLE – He’s been a busy man.

As was the case a year ago, Callaway’s DJ Atkins is the team’s leading rusher, and he is closing in on 1,000 yards.

Atkins hasn’t just been a standout on offense, though.

Atkins also plays a lot of snaps on defense, and he has excelled in his role at free safety.

“DJ’s not getting as many carries, but he’s played free safety, and played so much defense this year and has been a huge contributor for the team, other than just getting touches,” said Matt Napier, Callaway’s offensive coordinator. “He’s been even more important from a team standpoint this year than he was last year.”

A year ago, Atkins ran for nearly 2,500 yards while helping the Cavaliers go 13-1 and reach the semifinals of the Class AA state playoffs.

This season, Atkins has continued to provide big plays in the running game, but he has been sharing the snaps with Cartavious “Tank” Bigsby and Qua Hines.

Callaway head coach Pete Wiggins said Atkins epitomizes the

team-first attitude the players on the team possess.

“DJ’s role has changed this year,” Wiggins said. “He is a great contributor on defense at safety. He brings a physicality on the defensive side of the ball. He’s a really good tackler, and I’m really proud of his play this year. He’s a great tailback, and he’s had another great season running the ball, but also the job he’s done on defense.”

IMPORTANT SENIOR: Another senior who has been critical to Callaway’s success is Travis Traylor, who has helped the team average close to 40 points per game on offense.

While Traylor doesn’t get many touches, he’s still a critical piece of the puzzle on offense.

Traylor has spent much of the season at fullback, and that has always been a key position at Callaway.

A year ago, Jibrell Jackson was an elite fullback, and he was one of the offensive players that had to be replaced along with quarterback Dylan Johnson and wide receiver Braylon Sanders.

“Travis Traylor is kind of an unsung hero,” Napier said. “He’s done a great job for us at tight end and fullback. A lot of people talk about Dylan and Braylon, but Jibrell Jackson last year really made things go at fullback. We’ve had to replace him through committee with some guys that could run a little bit, with some guys that can block.”

Wiggins calls Traylor “one of the hardest-working kids I’ve ever been around.”

“From the time I met him, he’s always been dedicated,” Wiggins added. “He gives everything he’s got. It doesn’t matter where he’s at. He puts a lot of pressure on himself to be the best, and his effort is high. It doesn’t matter what day it is, or if we’re in the weight room, or on the field. He’s been like that ever since I’ve known him, and he’s a great competitor.”

CHANGE OF PACE: While Kedrick Ramsey has been Callaway’s primary quarterback this season, sophomore Jacob Freeman also lines up behind the center on occasion.

Freeman, who mostly plays wide receiver, gets a handful of snaps at quarterback each game, and he has provided a number of explosive plays whether he’s throwing or running.

Freeman also has multiple touchdowns as a wide receiver.

“You throw Jacob Freeman in there at receiver and wildcat, and he’s been a big-play guy,” Napier said.

Napier also looks for a player who can do multiple things and provide explosive plays, and he said Freeman “has been that guy for us this year and has done a really good job.”