Reiding Between the Lines: Cam Akers is Rounding Back into Form

Photo: © Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

From Derrick Brooks to Deion Sanders and now with Jalen Ramsey -- there's been a long lineage of impressive talents to come through Tallahassee. A lot of recruits have been celebrated after signing with the Seminoles, but few as highly as running back Cam Akers.

One of the most highly celebrated recruits in program history, that says a lot, especially considering a program with rich tradition and history like Florida State. Akers has had plenty of motivation and role models throughout his playing career, but he mentions that his mother, Angela is his biggest. Diagnosed with stage II breast cancer when he was just 10 years old (2009), he made sure to cherish every moment. Her strength shined and she beat cancer just two years after the fact (July 2011).

Statistically, Akers was one of the best prospects to ever come out of Mississippi. At Clinton High School, he was a do-it-all type of player that played quarterback and running back. He finished his four-year varsity career with 8,140 passing yards and 78 touchdowns, while also accumulating 5,103 rushing yards and 71 touchdowns on the ground. He also led his team to a state championship victory (2016 -- the first ever in program history. Astronomical stats and a historic career made him the clear-cut top prospect in the state and the No. 1 ranked running back prospect in the country.

He was the first running back in the state to hold that moniker since Jerious Norwood in 2002. Nearby Ole Miss was believed to be the favorite to land Akers, but he opted to attend Florida State because of the family environment and comfort that he felt with the coaching staff. Akers quickly was labeled as the next great Seminole and he lived up to the hype as a freshman with a team-high 1,024 yards and seven touchdowns. His output was also good enough to break Dalvin Cook’s previous freshman record of 1,008 rushing yards set in 2014. After a coaching change, Akers suffered a bit of a setback as a sophomore, but still managed to rush for a team-leading 706 yards and six touchdowns.

A bit of a down year according to his standards, but Akers has fully exited what some would consider a sophomore slump and entered his name back into the top-tier of running backs throughout the country. Already up to 582 rushing yards and seven touchdowns this season, he's already matched his single-season career high for trips to the end zone. There continues to be a lot of excitement about Akers and just what he brings to the table.

What are some assets that the talented junior brings to the playing surface though?

Where He Wins (+)

Akers consistently plays through the echo of the whistle and refuses to be denied on rushing attempts. He can become a bit of a battering ram in his attempts to churn out more yards, but it is a factor that has shown to wear down matchups. Akers has a grind it out style that can churn out gains even in condensed areas. He takes pride in finishing runs with authority and always seeks opportunities for more even if the possibilities are at a minimum. Shoulders over toes, forward leaner, that is not shy about lower his pads in order to run through defenders.

He exhibits smooth hips with a quick hop, step, and plant move. Also a side swipe stiff arm that has been effective. Akers is able to move at full speeds while sticking a side wiper out in front or to either side of his body to help remain clean. On many of Akers explosive runs, they have been after the result of him executing a sudden plant of either foot in order to avoid second and third level tacklers who are coming downhill.  

Last season, he was involved in an unorthodox offense that included a bunch of unconventional formations. The Seminoles offense experimented with him in various alignments often. Primarily used on swings, underneath, and angle routes slightly in front of the line of scrimmage, but despite being limited to a marginal role in the passing game, he’s fully capable to catching the ball out of the backfield and immediately being able to gain yards afterwards. 

Where He Needs to Improve (-)

Akers is a true one cut and go type of rusher when he gets a full head of steam and momentum, but will sometimes try to be something that he’s not with attempting to do too much. He can outpace his body and become unable to control his balance. His shoulders become far over his toes and his body becomes uncontrollable to the point of where he can’t avoid incoming contact. It results in him being knocked to the ground easily. 

Because of the urgency and right now nature that he runs with, it results in it negatively affecting him in portions. Bouncing or cutting back runs too soon are frequent and just sticking to the script would sometimes result in bigger gains than always attempting to make something happen based on his natural abilities. 

There are some issues with running past or not having a feel for when holes were going to open Trusting his initial read keys and executing where the lanes are expected to be is an area where Akers needs to become more consistent. Most of his explosive runs were a result of trusting his instincts and the picture presented in front of him. 

Written By:

Jordan Reid

Senior NFL Draft Analyst

Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-Founder of Former QB and Coach at North Carolina Central Univ.