Braden Atkinson, junior at Boys’ Latin, has decided that Wake Forest will become the place he will call home once he graduates in 2017.
On April 2nd, via Twitter, Atkinson told all his followers that he officially made his decision to commit to Wake Forest. Two years ago, if followers would have said that Atkinson was going to be a Division I football player, people would have looked dazed and confused.
After his freshman year at Calvert Hall, he committed to Johns Hopkins University as a lacrosse midfielder. He competed there for two years until he made the decision to transfer to BL where he reclassified as a sophomore. Due to his decision to reclassify, Atkinson decided to focus on football.
During that 2014-2015 season, Atkinson discovered a passion for football that nobody, even himself, thought he had inside him. He jumped up the depth chart from third to first, taking senior Myles Cohen’s spot at wide receiver. Atkinson, 6’4″ and about 190 pounds at the time, was able to go over just about any kid to get the ball.
Once the season was over, the fire in Atkinson’s eyes started to grow. He put together a highlight tape of the season and had it sent out to college coaches to get feedback on what they thought about him as a college level player. The feedback resounded with coaches, asking him to come to their summer camps.
Atkinson spent his summer away from lacrosse and went to football camps and developed skills while also opening up coaches’ eyes to his talent. The 2015-2016 season was key for Atkinson. This season would decide his path between lacrosse or football.
Atkinson contacted the Johns Hopkins coaches and respectfully withdrew his commit from lacrosse and decided to go all in with football. Sending his junior film out to coaches and hitting the weight room hard, Atkinson started receiving interest from countless schools. In a short three months, Atkinson was able to put on 15 pounds and build himself up to 220, which impressed all the coaches interested in his talents.
Atkinson spent the months of December through April of 2016 on unofficial visits entitled Junior Days. He was offered scholarships by Old Dominion University, Fordham, and Navy before he received and accepted the offer from Wake Forest University.
Due to an illness, Atkinson was not able to answer any interview questions.
Ritchie Schell, head football coach at Boys’ Latin, feels strongly about Wake Forest. “It’s a great place for Braden. I think it’s one of the smaller Division I football programs and that will give him the help he needs academically as well.”
“It’s just the right fit for him, and if those other Division I schools wanted him, I think they would have offered him [some kind of offer] already, but he loved it down there; it’s the right fit,” continued Schell.
Shaumar Wilson, senior and teammate of Braden, was proud and happy for Atkinson. “Being able to turn around from lacrosse to football in one year and receive an offer just shows the hard work he put in.”