In 2017, Cam Akers was the No. 3 high school recruit in America by 247Sports and played like that as a freshman at Florida State University. This year, he'll show that he's still the best back in the country.
After suffering from an injury during his sophomore season in 2018, Akers struggled to consistently succeed, but he should pick up right where he left off for Willie Taggart's team this year.
Cam Akers Florida State
With the hiring of Kendal Briles as the Florida State Seminoles offensive coordinator, Akers and the offense as a whole has a chance to improve from last season when it struggled under with head coach Willie Taggart calling plays. A lot of that lies on the shoulders of the offensive line that has been bad for two consecutive seasons.
But if you know anything about college football, you know things change in a hurry.
As a freshman in Tallahassee, Akers had big shoes to fill after the 'Noles lost Dalvin Cook to the NFL, but Akers lived up to his hype as a five-star recruit. He was one of the best backs in college football, rushing for 1,025 yards and seven touchdowns. That broke the FSU football freshman-rushing record and is currently the ninth-best season by a Seminoles running back in history.
Entering 2019's fall camp as the obvious lead running back on the team, there is no doubt Akers should be able to crush those numbers if he can stay healthy. The player who will probably split carries with him is Khalan Laborn, who missed most of last season with a knee injury. The only other scholarship running back on the team is Anthony Grant.
Those are three talented players, but Akers will be relied on to carry most of the load. Since there is a lack of depth, he could put up huge numbers if he can produce in the same way he did as a freshman.
A similarity to his freshman season is that James Blackman will likely be the starting quarterback once again. In 2017, Blackman became the starter after Deandre Francois was injured in the season opener against Alabama.
Maybe the biggest issue Akers faces this season, other than the offensive line, is a new offense. But if you look at the rushing stats Briles' offenses have put up in the past, it will put any Akers' fans minds at ease.
In the last three seasons, as offensive coordinator of three different schools, Briles' offenses have each ranked in the top-23 in the country for rushing yards per game. In 2016 at Baylor, the Bears averaged 241.8 yards per game, which was 15th in the country. The following year at Florida Atlantic, Briles and Lane Kiffin had the fourth-best rushing attack in the country at 285.3 yards per game. And last season at Houston, the Cougars averaged 217.1 yards, 23rd nationally.
It is also a plus for Florida State that this happened at three different schools. There are no worries that these numbers were inflated by one really good player. He brought his offense into different schools with different players and had great rushing attacks each time, and at no point did he have a player with the talent of Cam Akers.
Another factor that should help Akers reach his potential is the receiving core. Even though the Seminoles lost top target Nyqwan Murray to the NFL, they have some really talented receivers like Tamorrion Terry who can force teams to respect the passing game and not crowd the box.
With two main ACC rivals Miami and Clemson losing key defensive lineman from a year ago, there will be some less challenging fronts to face, though each of those teams will likely reload on really good lineman. And though they face some really talented fronts that stopped the run well last season, there are teams like Louisville and Wake Forest who struggle in that area.
With new faces on the coaching staff and the starting lineup, Akers is a leader for Florida State football and will be one of the biggest factors for how the Seminoles perform in the fall. With a solid season, Akers could easily move into the top-six for the school's all-time career rushing list and put himself in talks of being an early-round draft pick for 2020.
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