|photo by Paul Videla|
The Palmetto Tigers have chosen a successor to Trent Miller, above, now a walk-on at USF.
"It's no secret now - he won the job," Palmetto coach Dave Marino said Wednesday.
Atkins, a rising senior, hails from Illinois and trained under Chris Weinke at IMG's football academy.
Trent Miller, who quarterbacked the Tigers to the Class 5A state final four last season, also worked with Weinke at IMG before coming to Palmetto. Miller is now a walk-on at USF.
The race for Miller's successor was between Atkins and Chris Tuten, a rising sophomore who started last year for Palmetto's JV team.
"Chris is good, it's just Spencer has really taken that step forward," Marino said. "I think his age and maturity has helped him take that step forward to be the guy."
Despite the difference in age and experience between the candidates, Marino said the competition was wide open from the start. He also said Tuten will get plenty of action when Palmetto heads to Venice on Aug. 24 for its Kickoff Classic.
"We gave them all equal reps, and we're still giving them equal reps," Marino said. "We're going to try and get Chris some valuable time against Venice - one last evaluation, just to make sure we're not missing anything and Spencer is the guy."
Though he'll be the backup this season, Tuten will probably assume the reins after Atkins graduates in May. So this year will be important in terms of his development, though Marino said Tuten is already impressive for a player who has yet to take a varsity snap in a regular-season game.
"Another year to mature, another year in our system, it's basically going allow him to groom slowly," Marino said. "If he was thrown into the fire as a sophomore being our starter, we feel confident that he would have been OK. But there's no substitute for time and experience."