Former Bronco Kevin Atkins signs as undrafted free agent
MURRIETA — It was not that long ago that recent Boise State graduate and standout football player, Khalil Shakir, was a Friday night highlight reel in our local area. A four-star recruit in the 2018 recruiting class out of Vista Murrieta High School, after his high school campaign, Shakir was the 44th ranked player in California according to the 24/7 Sports composite rankings.
Despite an injury his freshman year of college, Shakir bounced back to be used primarily as a slot receiver all four seasons as a Boise State Bronco. As he wrapped up his senior year, Shakir now ranks fifth all-time in career receptions with 208, tied for sixth with 10 career 100-yard games, fourth all-time in Broncos’ history with 2,878 career receiving yards and sixth in receiving touchdowns. His undeniable career earned Shakir an invitation to the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama and the 2022 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Murrieta native, and two-time All-Mountain West First-Team honoree, etched his name in Boise State football history with a career-year during the Broncos’ 2021 campaign. Shakir’s 77 receptions and 1,117 receiving yards last fall were both career-highs for the 6 foot, 190-pound senior. He also led the country by registering 15 consecutive games with more than 65 receiving yards in each contest, according to Boise State Athletics.
And now, Boise State’s streak of having a player selected in the NFL Draft extended to 13 consecutive years when Shakir’s name was called Saturday, April 30.
The Buffalo Bills traded their No. 168 and No. 203 overall picks to the Chicago Bears to move up in the fifth round to select the former Broncos’ star wideout (No. 148 overall pick) in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL draft. At the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, Shakir posted a 4.43-second 40-yard dash time and a 34.5-inch vertical jump. During Boise State’s Pro Day, Shakir upped his vertical jump to 38.5 inches. The fifth round of the 2022 NFL draft saw six wide receivers selected, the most in the common draft era since 1967. Seven wide receivers were taken the day before in Friday’s second round.
With his versatility on the football field, Shakir has the ability to be a threat in numerous positions, outside of wide receiver, if ever needed. He played receiver, defensive back, returned kicks and ran some Wildcat plays as quarterback in high school. Shakir’s father was in the Marines and the family spent time in Hawaii and Japan before settling in Southern California when Shakir was in sixth grade.
Not selected in the draft this year, a former Vista Murrieta teammate of Shakir’s has begun the process of starting his professional career in the NFL as well. A 2016 graduate of Vista Murrieta, Kevin Atkins went on to play college football at Fresno State as a Defensive Tackle (DT). Atkins pulled his pectoral muscle during the bench press portion of Fresno State’s Pro Day March 24, fearing the worst possible outcome. The injury ended his day early and prevented him from participating in on-field workouts in front of scouts from 19 NFL teams. The scariest thought to Atkins, though, was that his injured pectoral muscle threatened his dream of playing in the National Football League.
“I kind of went dark for a little bit when it happened,” Atkins told the media. “All of my coaches and my family were calling me. I was a little bummed out. I had to get out of my own head. I had to rehab, so I was still going up to Fresno State, working on where I did get hurt.”
The 6-foot-2, 307-pound beast of a player, was a four-year starter at Fresno State from 2018-2021. He played in 59 games dating back to his redshirt freshman year in 2017 and enjoyed his best season in 2021. Atkins recorded 41 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and seven sacks last season, which tied for the team lead. He was also named All-Mountain West honorable mention three times in his career, so there is a lot of promise in the young man’s future.
When he got healthy, he was still getting calls from pro scouts, offering a glimmer of hope, but he knew the road was going to be long, with tough hills to climb.
“I ended up still going on a Top-30 visit to Green Bay,” he said. “So, I felt like everything would work out as planned.”
Though Atkins did not hear his name called in the 2022 NFL Draft, an hour after the final pick, he signed as an undrafted free agent to the San Francisco 49ers. Six years at Fresno State should have prepared him well for San Francisco because they play almost the same defense as Fresno State.
“I’m almost doing the same thing I did in college, but at a higher level,” Atkins said. “Just training, it makes everything that much easier.”
Atkins reported to 49ers’ camp May 12, with hopes of cracking the 53-man roster in the fall.
JP Raineri can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.