The game of football requires a tremendous amount of personal investment so none of the players at Northeastern University were prepared when it was learned that the football program was being disbanded. The school cited financial concerns as the main factor behind their decision.
Some of those hurt the most were the juniors who were left with just one year of eligibility to find a new home to extend their football career. One of the Huskies who found himself in this position was David Akinniyi. The 6-4, 250 pound defensive end was one Northeastern’s top defenders, finishing off 2009 with 40 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, four sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He told Pack Pride that learning of the plug being pulled on the football program and his teammates came as a complete surprise.
“It was a shocking moment,” said Akinniyi. “I mean, a year before, the athletic’s director came to our practice and told us everything was good and he had plans for a new stadium. Then, almost a year later he tells us he had sent up a recommendation to cut the program, so it was shocking. It was unexpected. The team was mad. There was cussing, screaming. Everyone was mad and just trying to move on."
Unsure of if and where he might play college football again, Akinniyi put all of those concerns to rest this past weekend after making an official visit to NC State and then committing to the Pack afterwards. Pack Pride spoke with Akinniyi after he arrived back home in Boston.
“I committed to NC State,” he said. “The school is good and I’m trying to be there in January. The facilities are better than any of the other schools I’ve been to in my life. I mean, it was a pretty easy decision. Curtis Underwood hosted me on my visit.”
The Wolfpack’s began to show interest in Akinniyi after watching film from his junior year and in particular, his performance against Boston College. He finished the game with four tackles and two tackles for loss from his end position.
“They liked the way I played against Boston College,” said Akinniyi. “I played against those guys and I realized that realistically, division one has better players but there’s a lot of good players in 1-AA as well. We can compete. We got beat bad but individually, there’s people that can compete at that level.
"The coaches at State, they felt like they could give me a shot there. They told me I’d have a chance to compete and do my best and work hard in the off season. I have to hope for the best and hope everything works out and I’ll be out there making plays.”
Akinniyi knows he’s been given a second chance at college football and the opportunity to improve if he hopes to make it to the next level. He said he’s already hard at work to make sure he’s in the best shape possible when he arrives in January.
“I’ve been working hard the last couple of weeks so I can be in the best shape possible. I know I could possibly have an opportunity to get better and make it to the next level. So the opportunity to play somewhere that could give me more exposure, media exposure is important. I’ve been working as hard as possible so I can get there.
Akinniyi also considered Maryland, Buffalo and Central Florida among others before deciding on NC State.