Tennessee football has joined the slew of schools after 2026 EDGE rusher Tyler Atkinson. Atkinson is the first-ever eighth grader invited to the All-American Bowl and holds over 15 offers already.
Tennessee extended Atkinson a scholarship offer in March of 2022. The Vols have made Atkinson a priority early in his recruitment.
“Tennessee, they’re good,” Atkinson told Luke Winstel. “I have talked to the linebackers coach. Right now, they’re pretty good.”
Tennessee freshman linebacker Jalen Smith is from Grayson (Ga.) High School, the same high school as Atkinson. Forming the relationships and seeing Smith in Knoxville has caught Atkinson’s attention.
“They got him playing, I watched some of his clips, they got him playing a good role,” Atkinson said. “They like me on the EDGE and linebacker, I think it’s pretty good.
“I talked to Jalen last time he was out here, last year we had a relationship where he just taught me stuff and stayed on me a little bit. We just got a good connection on the field and that’s how it went from there.”
The freshman isn’t worried about the attention he is getting, but he is instead focused on improving his game. Atkinson was last on campus for a camp this past summer. He also took an unofficial visit in March 2022, the same time he was extended a scholarship offer.
“I’ve just been focused on myself, my craft and my family,” Atkinson said. “Really just putting the work in and what I need to be focused on, training and just taking care of my body.”
Atkinson spent a lot of time on the field for Grayson high school as a freshman. The 6-foot-2 and 190-pound EDGE rusher has quickly made a name for himself in Georgia high school football.
“They got me playing everywhere,” Atkinson said. “They got me in different position, I can’t really say too much.”