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Irish Insights

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Associated Press

Fast freshman

Notre Dame freshman George Atkinson III was one of the few bright spots for the Irish in Saturday night's 31-17 home loss to USC.

Atkinson recorded his second touchdown of the season off a kickoff return when he scored on a 96-yard run in the second quarter.

He also returned a kickoff 89 yards in a 31-13 win over Michigan State on Sept. 17.

"When I got the ball in my hands, you really don't have time to think," Atkinson said of returning kickoffs. "I just go where I'm supposed to go, trust my blocks and hit it as fast as I can."

Atkinson is the fourth player in the FBS to return to kickoffs for touchdowns this season.

The freshman's two TD returns matched the program's single-season record. He is the first player to have multiple scoring returns since Allen Rossum in 1997, and he is the first freshman to score on two returns since Raghib "Rocket" Ismail in 1988.

"You definitely start thinking like, 'I'm here. It happened,' " Atkinson said. "It's a great feeling. You are going to celebrate with your teammates.

"I always like looking up at the scoreboard and seeing 7, you got 7 points because of special teams."