Lorick Atkinson begins his first season as the linebackers coach at Oconee County High School and brings with him a wealth of experience and knowledge on the High School and Division I FCS level.
Affectionately known to his players as “Coach A.,” Atkinson spent the last two seasons as Defensive Coordinator at Tara High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Atkinson is also the South Regional Scout for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League, a position he has held since 2016.
Before that, Atkinson served as the linebackers coach at Southern University from 2013 to 2015. During his time at Southern, the Jaguars won two Bayou Classics, two Western Division SWAC Championships, and claimed the 2013 SWAC Championship in Houston, where Atkinson’s linebacker, Anthony Balancier, earned the Defensive Most Valuable Player.
Atkinson served in a scouting capacity with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League and spent 2005-2008 as head coach at NCAA Division II Chowan (N.C.) University.
During his time with Chowan, Atkinson inherited a struggling program and moved the Hawks in a competitive direction. He oversaw a challenging transition from NCAA Division III and non-scholarship football to NCAA Division II and scholarship competition.
Atkinson served for eight seasons at Division I Gardner-Webb University, including the 2003 and 2004 seasons as the program’s defensive coordinator. His 2003 defense ranked No. 1 in the Big South Conference in total defense, helping the Runnin’ Bulldogs to an 8-4 mark and its second consecutive conference crown. Gardner-Webb was in the I-AA at-large playoff discussion late into the 2003 season.
Safety Mario Williams flourished under Atkinson’s guidance, earning Big South Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2003 and first-team I-AA All-America honors that same season. Williams entered the 2004 campaign on the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List, before a mid-season injury derailed those hopes. Williams went on to play several seasons for the Frankfurt Galaxy in NFL Europe.
Linebacker Jim Maxwell starred on Atkinson’s defense as a senior in 2003, and went on to earn a spot on the New York Giants roster as an undrafted free agent. Maxwell spent two seasons with the Giants’ active roster, and also had NFL stints with San Francisco, Miami and Cincinnati.
In 2004, defensive end Harold Wells earned consensus first-team All-America honors – the first player in Gardner-Webb and Big South Conference history to do so. Wells was named the Football Gazette’s Division I-AA National Lineman of the Year and led the nation with 22.5 tackles for loss. Wells, who doubled as a fullback, scored eight touchdowns that season and went on to a successful career on offense with the Arena League’s Columbus Destroyers. He finished his pro career as that franchise’s leading rusher.
Cornerback Allen Davis also earned All-America honors under Atkinson in 2004 after breaking up 17 passes and intercepting five more. During his three seasons with the Gardner-Webb defense, including the 2002 campaign in charge of the secondary, eight safeties and cornerbacks earned All-Big South Conference accolades.
In 2002, Williams was also the Big South’s Defensive Player of the Year and a third-team All-America selection. Gardner-Webb rolled to a 9-1 record that season and finished ranked in the top-20 of both major national Division I-AA polls.
Atkinson served as the running backs coach from 1997-2001 at Gardner-Webb, tutoring All-America back Justin Richardson – the program’s second-leading rusher – and several other successful backs. Richardson topped the 1,000-yard mark in 2000, becoming the first Runnin’ Bulldog to run for more than 1,000 yards since 1989.
Atkinson’s prowess on the recruiting trail garnered high marks during his time with the Runnin’ Bulldogs as well. He served as the program’s recruiting coordinator, and spearheaded a noticeable uptick in the talent level in Boiling Springs. During the final four seasons of his tenure, Gardner-Webb inked 25 All-State performers from the Southeast, including numerous State Players of the Year.
Prior to joining the staff at Gardner-Webb, Atkinson spent two seasons on staff at North Greenville (S.C.) College, helping transition that program to four-year status. In 1996, the Crusaders forged a 7-3 mark and an NAIA top-10 ranking. As the team’s defensive coordinator, Atkinson led his charges to the top statistical mark in the conference and produced three All-Conference players.
He spent one season as a defensive assistant at nationally-ranked Furman (S.C.) and was an assistant coach at powerful Ninety Six (S.C.) High for three seasons.
Atkinson graduated from Gardner-Webb with a degree in social sciences in 1988 and earned a master’s degree from Converse College in 1990. He is the proud father of daughter Avery, and two sons, Jack and James.