Throughout his football career, Tutu Atwell has been told that he’s too small. And yet, that hasn’t stopped the Louisville wide receiver from torching opposing secondaries.
Atwell had a fantastic run with the Cardinals, hauling in 139 passes for 2,303 yards and 20 touchdowns in a three-year span. He earned All-ACC honors during his sophomore and junior seasons.
While NFL scouts have expressed their concerns with Atwell’s 5-foot-8 frame, there are plenty of reasons to believe he’ll remain a Day 2 selection in this year’s draft.
For starters, Atwell has great speed at the position. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.32 seconds and completed the 3-cone drill in 6.87 seconds. Additionally, he’s shown on film that he can run tight routes and catch just about every ball thrown his way. That won’t stop the naysayers from saying he’s too small, but there’s a lot to like about his game.
With the NFL Draft almost here, we sat down with Tutu Atwell to discuss his Louisville career, preparation for the NFL Draft, how he deals with his critics and much more.
The Spun: How has this process been for you?
Tutu Atwell: Everything has been great. I’m pretty much getting ready for the draft, working out, staying in shape and keeping my cool.
The Spun: What’d you make of your pro day?
TA: I think it was good. Coming off a back injury, I feel like I did great. I think I ran awesome routes and had a good time for the scout. Overall, I thought I did well and it was a fun time.
— Louisville Football (@UofLFootball) March 30, 2021
The Spun: How would you grade your 40 time?
TA: I wanted to hit the 4.2 range, but like I said before, I was dealing with a back injury. For me, just getting through that and showing that injury won’t hold me back meant a lot. I feel like I ran a great time when you take the injury into consideration.
The Spun: What’s your favorite Louisville moment?
TA: Just every step of the way from the time I got there to the time I left. Just being around those coaches and that atmosphere was amazing. Something about Louisville makes it feel like home to me.
NFL Draft prospect and former Louisville WR Tutu Atwell (@c5_atwell) winning vs. off-man on the speed dig.
— Receiver Daily (@ReceiverDaily) March 3, 2021
The Spun: What’s your mindset when the ball is in your hands?
TA: I’m thinking that I need to make a play. Every time the ball is in my hands, I’m trying to score. Even if I can’t, I’m going to try to find a way.
The Spun: Mel Kiper recently had you going in the first round. Have you set any goals for yourself?
TA: I’m going to let the chips fall where they may. I’ll do what I do best regardless of where I go.
The Spun: How has the NFL interest been?
TA: It’s been great. There are so many great coaches in the NFL, so it’s been fun interacting with them.
Most career 20+ yard touchdowns in the 2021 draft class:
1. DeVonta Smith – 17
2. Ja'Marr Chase – 16
3. Dyami Brown – 14
4. Tutu Atwell – 12 pic.twitter.com/LAdqzNup7g
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 15, 2021
The Spun: Which wide receivers do you like to study on film?
TA: I like to watch Tyreek Hill and Darnell Mooney.
The Spun: What’s your best quality on the field?
TA: My ability to get open is my best quality. I also have good speed and sure hands.
The Spun: What are you trying to improve during this draft process?
TA: I need to hold my blocks a little longer. I feel like I block well, but I need to hold on just a second longer. I’m also trying to make sure my routes are a bit more crisp.
The Spun: Do you ever think about which quarterbacks you’d like to team up with?
TA: I mean it does, but it really doesn’t matter to me. I’m going to be excited to play for whichever team drafts me. Whichever team drafts me is going to have someone special on their team.
Players with 1,000+ yards after catch since 2019
💥 DeVonta Smith (1,701)
💥 Travis Etienne (1,115)
💥 Jaelon Darden (1,044)
💥 Tutu Atwell (1,039) pic.twitter.com/8bbTmWM6HG
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 29, 2021
The Spun: There were several stats from Pro Football Focus that had you ranked toward the top for this wide receiver class, yet sometimes it seems like you don’t get the recognition you deserve. Do you feel like you’re flying under the radar?
TA: I don’t let it get to me. It’s nice to see my name up there from time to time, but when it’s not, I don’t get down. Everyone has their own opinion, so I can’t let that get to me.
The Spun: What has motivated you throughout this draft process?
TA: Most people have told me that I’m too small all my life. That made me go all in and push myself every single day. I want to prove them wrong and show that size doesn’t mean anything in football.
The Spun: What is an NFL team getting in Tutu Atwell?
TA: You’re getting a dog. I’m very humble, I’m a team player and I’m going to do what I have to do in order for us to win.
— ACC Network (@accnetwork) April 15, 2021
Atwell has the potential to be an excellent weapon at the next level, especially if he lands in the right system.
You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.