Q&A: Atkins discusses OL growth, veterans’ impact, Scott’s development

Alex Atkins spoke with a group of reporters on Friday ahead of the start of Florida State’s preseason camp. Atkins signed an amended contract in the offseason that will keep him under contract with FSU through December 2023 (news that came out later in the day after our interview). Below are five quotes from Atkins as well as a full video of our interview.

What are the areas of growth you want to see the most?

No. 1 was continuity. No. 2 was trust. And No. 3 was accountability. Basically, understanding that there’s always going to be a reason why it didn’t happen. But how can we say, ‘What could I have done to make it happen?’ So what coach (Mike Norvell) always talks about is 1 percent. So if we, as individuals, keep getting that 1 percent, but hold each other accountable in that room, we’ll get the results.

Devontay Love-Taylor has been injured but what impact has he had this offseason?

Devontay has the best quality of developing relationships with his peers. You can put a strong voice in there, you can say, ‘Oh, this guy has great leadership qualities. He’s well spoken, he does this.’ And you can put them in a room for people that don’t know him and it does not matter. Because they don’t trust him or they don’t know him, they don’t feel like you have the best interest. So you have to build the relationship. And that’s what he did. He started from the ground because these conversations like this about him being a leader just started, but he’s been doing it. But now it’s becoming evident because everybody else was talking about him doing it. He didn’t come out and say it, but people are giving him that because they built that relationship with him. He came in, made an example, worked his butt off because he started in the back. He was a no name, he developed a relationship, they all trust him. So now when he says something, there’s substance to what he says, and they listen to him. … I expect him to make a full recovery. I’m looking forward to watching him.

How do you determine if a guy like Gibbons, Love-Taylor, are they guard, tackle, right side, left side? How do you determine where they best fit?

First, I asked them, where are you going to have success? Because I’m gonna put you in the best position you feel like you’re gonna have success. And I’m gonna train you everywhere else because if you just come in and say you’re a right tackle, you’re gonna be in trouble playing for me. We’re going to develop you in different spots, because we’re not going to just play the backup left tackle, we’re gonna play the next best football player we have. So that’s already established before they walk in the room.

What can a competition for playing time do for the growth of the offensive line room overall?

It’s just like anything else, if there’s somebody nipping at your heels, you’re a little bit faster. But the word competition is not really what I use. It’s more of the standard and the accountability. You know what it has to look like. So whether you’re on a field or not, upholding the standard of what is being seen is the responsibility of the whole group. So they know who needs to be out there and who shouldn’t be out there. There’s no council or me just picking names.

Robert Scott came in over the summer and was able to start by week 3. How excited are you to see what he can do after a full offseason?

Rob is probably one of the best humans I’ve ever been around. He’s a great kid. Great kid. Great person. Great soul. Now as far as football, he’s had a full offseason but, to be honest, this is the first full offseason with all those guys with me, with the pandemic and things. We got hired in January, we were in quarantine in March, the first time you were around them is July. All of them to me have had a full round of offseason. So not only Robert, all of them to me I can’t wait to see their going through and going through with coach (Josh) Storms for a year.