Akers reported to the Alabama - Mississippi All-Star Game Tuesday morning. He participated in the first practice of the week with team Mississippi, working as the starting running back behind four-star quarterback Myles Breenan and the rest of the top players from the state.
But all anyone seemed to care about was what his next step will be. Akers, rated a five-star prospect by Scout.com, the No. 2 running back in the country and the No. 4 overall prospect, said he has a top three in mind, though he wouldn’t elaborate on who his finalists are. As an early enrollee, the Clinton, Miss., product will be making a decision soon, possibly at the U.S. Army All-American Game in January.
Akers enjoyed his recent in-home with Ole Miss. Rebel head coach Hugh Freeze was among the visitors, as was running backs coach Derrick Nix, who Akers described as “a great guy. That’s my dude right there.” The Rebels will be back on Sunday, as will Florida State (head coach Jimbo Fisher included), Tennessee and LSU. Ohio State has already visited him.
“The visit went well,” Akers said. “I met with coach Freeze, coach Nix and a lot of the offensive staff. It went well. They said a lot of good things. They just told me a lot of things about the program and how they could use me. That’s pretty much it.”
Ole Miss’ pitch to Akers is a plan to utilize him as a all-around back who can help spread the offense. He admitted the Rebels have “probably” recruited him the longest, and there’s certainly a need in their backfield following not only the graduation of starter Akeem Judd, but the uncertainty surrounding Eric Swinney. Swinney suffered his second-straight season-ending injury in the first game of the year.
But Akers also sees offensive firepower, from quarterback Shea Patterson to wide receivers A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, Van Jefferson and others.
“That’s definitely attractive,” Akers said. “Having weapons around you as a running back, you always want that. Somebody who can spread the defense out, open the box up a little bit with good receivers and a good quarterback. And they’ve got the same offensive line coming back, I think.
“I definitely got to see (Patterson). He’s definitely real good. I know they don’t want him to run the ball, get him hurt. They want to take a load off of him if they can and bring somebody in who can do the job so they can have a double-threat game.”
Ole Miss’ ongoing NCAA issues came up in the home visit. Any concerns Akers had, he said, were eased by what the Rebels told him.
“Went went over the situation and the scenarios that could happen,” he said. “They kind of laid it out for me. I feel comfortable with what could happen. It’s all right. They kind of told me what it was. It don’t make a difference.”
LSU is high on his list, too. The Tigers recently promoted interim head coach Ed Orgeron to full-time duty, which Akers considered a positive. He’s built a strong relationship with Orgeron and running backs coach Jabbar Juluke. Another selling point is the path Akers sees to playing time.
Tiger running back Leonard Fournette declared for the NFL Draft Monday.
“That’s my dude,” the 5-foot-11, 212-pound Akers said of Orgeron. “We already had a good relationship before he became the head coach, along with coach Juluke, the running backs coach. It built on what we had already. It didn’t hurt him at all.
“I definitely see a good opportunity being able to come in. Leonard declared yesterday. Being able to come in behind (Derrius) Guice and get my feet wet and get some reps and learn from him my first year. He’s probably going to leave his third year. Being able to take the reins my second year. I know they want to go to a spread offense. He put that out in the media. I think they definitely want to go to a spread-pro.”
Florida State has positives as well. Akers likes the straightforward approach of Fisher, who he described as a coach “who knows how to win” and “how to use a running back.”
“Just the way they do things and the situation, of course,” Akers said. “The coaches do their job well. They send running backs to the league. Dalvin (Cook) is probably going to leave, to declare. It’d be wide open.”
Ohio State can’t be counted out either. He tripped to Columbus three times, including an official visit for the Ohio State - Michigan game.
“Just the game atmosphere,” Akers said. “Michigan - Ohio State, that’s a big rivalry. Just the game atmosphere and being able to see a game. Coach (Tony) Alford and coach (Urban) Meyer, definitely great guys. Winning program. They do their job well up there. They’re kind of slim at running back. They could definitely use somebody else.”