TAMPA (USF) – USF Bulls wide receiver Sean Atkins  has been named one of 10 semifinalists for the 2023 Burlsworth Trophy, recognizing the most outstanding player from Division I (FBS) football who began their career as a walk-on.

Atkins is the only semifinalist from the American Athletic Conference and one of two nationally that do not play for a Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12 or SEC program. The 2022 winner was quarterback Stetson Bennett from the University of Georgia. 

In his fifth season as a Bull, Atkins earned a scholarship prior to the start of the 2021 season and has gone on to become the team’s third-leading receiver in 2022 (19 catches, 238 yards, 3 touchdowns) before being elevated to the team’s number one target this year. 2023 is his current career-best year and Atkins is on pace to break USF’s single-season receptions record and possibly challenge for the single-season receiving yards record (879, set in 2017 by Marquez Valdes-Scantling).

Atkins 6.7 receptions per game ranks third in the AAC and 14th nationally. He has collected four or more catches and 42-plus yards in every game on the season and has logged five games with seven or more, including his last four games in which he has totaled 32 receptions (8.0 per game). He has led USF in receptions in six games and in receiving yards in four, including a career-best 116 yards and two touchdowns in a win at Navy, which included an 88-yard touchdown reception.

The award is named in honor of Brandon Burlsworth, former University of Arkansas Walk-On and All-American offensive lineman.  Each nominee must have begun his first season of participation with FBS (D1) football program without financial aid of any kind from his university’s athletic department. 

The Bulls meet the Temple Owls on Saturday, Nov. 11 at Raymond James Stadium. Kickoff is noon for this Salute to Service game.