Coach Spotlight: Hakeem Akinola
"Hakeen has the ability to be a big-time player at Kansas State if they can keep his motor going," said Crooks. "Once he gets it going he's unstoppable. He can really dominate a game if he's dug in and engaged. For us he played the one and three technique on the defensive line in a 4-3 scheme."
Akinola made 22 tackles as a sophomore, eight and a half tackles for loss, one sack, one fumble recovery, and one quarterback hurry for a Hornet team that finished at 5-5.
"When he first came in he was kind of a pain in the butt," Crooks recollected while chuckling. "He made significant strides in his maturity while he was here and turned the corner academically. At the high school level he could overpower people with his size, so we coached him how to work and play hard to get the most out of his ability."
The Wildcats' staff was hoping for two of Crooks' defensive lineman. They were very interested in Akinola's teammate, Ioane Guata, who would eventually sign with Washington State.
"He loved the trip when we went with Ioane," said Crooks said of Akinola's Kansas State interest. "He really thought a lot of the coaches and wanted a chance to play at a big-time Division 1 program.
"He got hurt as a freshman and received a medical redshirt, so he'll have three years of eligibility in three years remaining. I think Kansas State is getting a good one."
Akinola is a 2009 graduate of Paint Branch High School in Burtonsville, Md. One outstanding defensive lineman, NFL All-Pro Darnell Dockett, played at Paint Branch. The Kansas State coaches would love to see Akinola develop into that kind of a player with the Purple and White.
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