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Alex Atkins hired as Florida State offensive coordinator

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Mike Norvell replaces Kenny Dillingham internally.

Florida State Seminoles football already has its new offensive coordinator, as offensive line coach Alex Atkins will be promoted following the departure of Kenny Dillingham to the Oregon Ducks:

Atkins has been key in head coach Mike Norvell’s efforts to re-establish a floor to the program after poor recruiting, development, and attrition decimated the offensive line unit near the end of Jimbo Fisher’s tenure in Tallahassee.

FSU’s OL play was to some extent covered up in recent seasons with the indomitable Dalvin Cook and uber-talented Cam Akers, though not even Akers could overcome the offensive line play issues in the 2018 season especially. With continued development under Atkins, the unit has improved significantly, though much more work remains to be done.

His official FSU bio:

Alex Atkins was announced as Florida State’s offensive line coach on Dec. 29, 2019.

In his first season with the Seminoles, Atkins led a young group that blocked for a top-20 rushing offense while featuring nine different starters making up six different starting lineups in nine games. Robert Scott, Jr., and Maurice Smith were both recognized among the best freshmen in the country as Scott earned True Freshman All-America honors from 247Sports and Smith was named a Freshman All-American by Rivals.

Florida State averaged 199.9 rushing yards per game, the program’s highest since 2016 and 20th nationally among teams that played at least nine games in 2020, and 5.11 yards per rush, 16th in the nation among teams with at least 350 carries and FSU’s most in a season since 2015. The Seminoles topped 400 yards of total offense in five of the last seven games, including more than 500 yards of total offense twice, and produced FSU’s first game with at least 250 yards rushing and passing since 2016.

In the season finale, a 56-35 win over the Duke Blue Devils, Florida State rushed for six touchdowns, the most in the ACC and tied for the seventh-highest single-game total nationally in 2020. That also was only the second time in FSU history the Seminoles rushed for six touchdowns in a conference game. Florida State started four freshmen offensive lineman at the NC State Wolfpack, the first time since 2011 FSU had four freshmen starters in a game, and that group blocked as FSU had five successful fourth-down conversions, which was the second-highest single-game total in program history, the most by an ACC program in 2020 and the second-highest total nationally in 2020.

Atkins served as Charlotte’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach in 2019 after three years as assistant head coach and offensive line coach at Tulane. He also has Division I experience at Georgia Southern, Chattanooga, Marshall and UT-Martin.

In 2019, Atkins coordinated an offense that led Charlotte to its first bowl game in program history as the team won seven games and was selected for the Bahamas Bowl. The 49ers allowed 1.62 sacks per game, tied for the 32nd-lowest average in the country, had their conference’s top rushing attack and ranked 32nd in FBS with an average of 203.0 yards per game, scored on 88.4 percent of their red zone possessions to tie for 35th in the nation, ranked 17th with an average of 14.10 yards per completion and ranked 24th with a time of possession average of 31:59 per game.

Atkins, whose offensive line was one of 24 to be included on the Joe Moore Award Midseason Honor Roll, tutored first-team all-conference performers Cam Clark and Benny LeMay as well as all-freshman offensive lineman Dejan Rasuo. Clark, a fourth-round selection by the New York Jets in the 2020 NFL Draft, anchored an offensive line that produced 10 100-yard rushing games compiled by three different athletes in 2019. LeMay led the way with a school-record seven 100-yard rushing games, ranking 23rd in the nation with his average of 98.4 rushing yards per game while his 120.4 all-purpose yards per game ranked 34th in the nation.

From 2016-18, Atkins was Tulane’s assistant head coach and offensive line coach. He also added running game coordinator responsibilities his final season in New Orleans. In his first season with the Green Wave, he helped direct a remarkable turnaround from the 118th rushing team in the country in 2015 at 115.8 yards per game to the NCAA’s 26th-best rushing attack in 2016 with an average of 228.1 yards per game. The improvement continued in 2017 as Tulane averaged 231.5 rushing yards per game, 20th in FBS. In his last year at Tulane, the Green Wave won seven games and the Cure Bowl behind an offense that posted the 23rd-highest rushing average in the country at 218.2 yards per game.

Prior to Tulane, Atkins coached the offensive line at Georgia Southern for two seasons and helped lead the Eagles to back-to-back nine-win seasons. In 2014, as Georgia Southern was transitioning into FBS, the team finished 9-3 and averaged a Division I-best 381.1 rushing yards per game. The next season, the Eagles finished 9-4 after winning the first bowl appearance in program history and led all FBS schools with an average of 363.0 rushing yards per game.

Atkins arrived at Georgia Southern following two years as offensive line coach at Chattanooga. In 2012, with FSU defensive coordinator Adam Fuller serving the same role for the Mocs, Chattanooga won six games behind an effective offense that ranked second in FCS with only nine turnovers and converted 61.5 percent of its fourth-down attempts. The next season, the Mocs finished 8-4 including a program-record six conference victories.

Atkins began his coaching career at UT-Martin, his alma mater, serving as a graduate assistant in 2007 and coaching tight ends in 2008. He was then a graduate assistant at Marshall in 2009. His first full-time coaching stop was at Itawamba Community College in Mississippi. As the offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator, he helped produce an offense that was top-25 in the country in both 2010 and 2011.

A four-year starter at offensive guard for UT-Martin, Atkins twice earned all-conference honors. His senior year he helped lead the Skyhawks to an OVC championship and the program’s first FCS playoff appearance. He blocked for two 1,000-yard rushers that season as the Skyhawks finished 9-3 and ranked 12th in the country.

Atkins, a native of Chicago, earned his bachelor’s degree in history from UT-Martin in 2007. He is married to the former Brittany Mitchell.