ath football position

What Does ATH Mean in Football Position?

In the world of football, most words are abbreviated or used in short forms apart from pick-6, DB, etc. Such words are well understood by the people in football. However, someone new to American football might get it wrong. One such word is the ATH football position.

So, what does ATH mean in football? ATH in football stands for an athlete. It is a short form of athlete and describes the different positions in football.

The word athlete does not carry the same meaning it does. It is a term used to describe a player with a variety of skills. This is a player that can play in different positions. You’ll hear the term used widely by scouts when scouting players in youth and college leagues.

Let’s dig deep and get a better understanding of ATH’s meaning in football.

What Is ATH in Football?

First, ATH is a short form of an athlete in football.

However, the word athlete in football means something else than the usual meaning.

In football, an athlete refers to a player with a wide range of skills and one capable of playing multiple positions.

In high school football, certain players are more athletic and can play multiple positions. When they are scouted for college, coaches write notes about them. 

Instead of writing the skills and positions such a player can play, they write ATH to mean they are athletic. It simply means the player can be used in any spot on the field.

Seen a recruiter write ATH remarks on your notes? If yes, then chances are you’re going to receive a lot of offers.

Why Do Football Players Receive The ATH Designation?

There are three main reasons football players receive the ATH designation. Let’s have a look at the reasons.

Football Player Out of Position

ATH players tend to play out of position. A good example is the quarterback position. You’ll find most youth leagues playing their best athletes at the quarterback position.

athlete in position

However, when scouting, it can be pretty difficult to choose them as quarterbacks. This leads to many of them missing offers to play professionally. When a coach sees such a player, he marks him as ATH.

A designation ATH simply means the player needs more evaluation since he can play in other positions. It’s like indicating the player is out of position and can be tried for other positions.

Playing Too Many Count

Apart from playing at quarterback, players can play in multiple positions. You’ll find a player punting, taking kicks, or playing as a quarterback. Such players have versatile skills to play in multiple positions.

It is a kind of player that will not be there for every snap but can easily succeed in every position.

When coaches are marking positions for such players, they are not going to limit them to one. Instead, the coach will indicate ATH which shows they can play various positions.

A player with such marks will have increased chances of offers. It means he is athletic and can be tried for different positions to know where they best fit.

Sizing Mismatch

We also have a size mismatch where players can be marked ATH. It is a case where a player plays in a certain position in high school but their size doesn’t allow for the same in college or professional football.

In such cases, the player is marked ATH. The marking asks for a coach to look for a position that might fit their size. 

A good example is a 160-pound linebacker in high school with a height of 5”7’. While he might be playing perfectly, such sizing will not work for the same position in professional football.

The ATH remarks give coaches a heads up to check the player and see another position they might fit.

Which Position Do Most ATHs Play?

The quarterback position is the most designated position that most ATH players will play in high school teams.

running back

However, most players in high school will play in the quarterback position if they are athletically gifted. However, this does not mean they will end up playing the same position professionally.

Most ATHs end up playing in the following positions:

Running Back

As the players advance from youth leagues, most end up as running backs. A running back is one position that requires players with great athletic ability. Therefore, you’ll find most ATHs gravitating towards a running back.

These are versatile players that can run and are good with the ball in their hands.

Wide Receiver

You’ll also find ATHs transitioning to wide receivers. It is another position that requires players with great coordination and speed. It’s one of the best positions in football and the most paid professionally. In most teams, wide receivers are the stars of the team.

Most ATHs will switch to this position because of the pay and fame. What’s more, when you play as a quarterback in high school, it’s more like you’re preparing yourself for the wide receiver position. You easily get to know what is expected of a wide receiver.

Defensive End

You can also have ATHs playing on the defensive end. It is a great position for the bigger and stronger ATHs. The position looks least unlikely but does work great for athletic players with big bodies.

A defensive position is one of the most important in a game of football. ATHs players with strength and big body sizes will end up playing there. What’s more excellent push rushers get paid pretty well.

player fighting for the ball

Some of the ATH in Football

Let’s have a look at some of the ATH in Football and where they ended up playing.

Deebo Samuel

A good example of an ATH is Deebo Samuel who plays for the 49ers. During his college playing time, Deebo played as a wide receiver. However, he occasionally took snaps at the running back position.

During scouting in college, the NFL coaches saw his great abilities with the ball in his hands. Once he got drafted into the NFL, Deebo became one of the best wide receivers. 

He took the role of carrying the ball in the running back position as a rookie.

He rose to the top with an average of 11.4 yard carries. By the third year, he had made 365 rushing yards and 56 carries. In the same season, he managed 1405 receiving yards as a wide receiver. 

His ability to play as a wide receiver and running back makes him a great example of an ATH.

Julian Edelman

Julian Edelman is another excellent example of an ATH out of college. Julian is best known as the receiver for the New England Patriots. However, a look back at his playing times in college, Julian was a quarterback.

NFL scouts released him saying his accuracy and arm strength were not good enough for him to make it in the NFL. However, his athletic talent was there for all to see. Most teams were not sure of the right position for him.

When he started, he played as a punter. An injury to Wes Welker gave him the chance to play as a slot receiver. As his career came to an end, he was one of the best receiving slots with three Super Bowls.

The versatile change of position is exactly what an ATH is all about.

football player on game

How To Become An ATH for Recruiters

Looking to become an ATH for recruiters? It’s a good idea as it increases your chances of an offer. It’s something you can do as few players are born ATH. Most do so through sheer hard work.

Here are a few ways you can become an ATH for recruiters.

Master the Game Play    

Make sure you understand the game of football inside out. You can become better by participating in other sports like soccer and rugby. Some skills in other sports can make you better in football.

When playing as a defensive quarterback, get to understand the roles of wide receivers. Learn the same when playing as a wide receiver. Mastering various roles and knowing what every player needs to do gets you to be seen by recruiters.

Level Up Skills

You need to upgrade your skills to a higher level. Recruiters are not going to pick anyone without great skills.

Apart from understanding and knowing a position, develop skills for the various positions you play.

Get a coach, learn and develop various football skills.

Learn Leadership Skills

ATHs are not the best leaders. However, having some leadership skills is something that will tick a recruiter’s box.

Take various leadership positions in school and take leadership positions in your team.

football practice


This is a general rule in every sport. You need to practice more than any other player on the team.

Practice makes perfect. Even the best football players practice every day. You shouldn’t stop, and you’re just starting.

What Is the Most Athletic Position in Football

A cornerback position is the most athletic position in football. It’s also the hardest position in football. Cornerbacks are the smallest players on the field but very athletic.

What Is the Easiest Position in Football

The wide receiver and punter are among the easiest positions in soccer. Wide receivers need to be instinctive and make plays in space. Punters also just need to train for kicking.

What Is the Safest Position in Football

The safest position in football is the punter. They only train on how to punt the football and are rarely hit or tackled.


Well, football does use many shorthands and abbreviations, and ATH is one. ATH is a short form of the athlete but one that means versatility. Players can have various skills and play different positions.

Learning and becoming in the eyes of recruiters gives you the best chance at getting offers. It is a mark showing that the player has several skill sets and needs further evaluation to find the right position.

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