Cam Akers. He’ll do a fine job soon enough to make sure SEC fans do not forget his name.
Could the future running back help fill as big a need for UGA as any in the Class of 2017? It’s a valid question. The position might be the most important need for this year’s class.
Are the gaps at offensive tackle just as big? Yes. Defensive line? Yes. Linebacker? Yes. But none of the recruits the program will sign at those spots will be as special as a freshman back who earns the right to play at UGA. Recent history looks pretty strong in that area.
Akers (actually a high school quarterback) projects to play running back for any program in any conference he chooses. Is that spreading it on a little too thick? Consider this: Akers ran a 4.4 laser time in the 40-yard dash, and posted a 40-inch vertical on Sunday at the Nike New Orleans “The Opening” regional.
Those feats would’ve been second- and third-best postings at the 2016 NFL Combine. That’s not bad for a 5-foot-11, 210-pounder who rates as the nation’s No. 3 back and No. 35 overall prospect for 2017. He told SEC Country’s Chris Kirschner what he was looking for with his college fit on Sunday.
“I want to see a great situation at the schools at running back,” Akers said. “I would like to possibly play as a freshman. The school needs to have great academics as well.”
Akers was committed to Alabama for a time and still would like offers from Clemson and Michigan State. It is eye-opening that neither has offered, but he hopes to add those to his 20-offer collection, as they are winning programs. That’s a big deal in his decision.
So is his family.
“I want to make sure schools not only recruit me but also my family,” Akers told Kirschner on Sunday. “I’m not in this by myself. Family is very important to me. I want this school I choose to feel like home.”
This is the part where Kirby Smart and Dell McGee hire out the Redcoat band to subtly trumpet those opportunities at UGA in the team’s next classy digital hype video.
Forget that subtle part. That message has already been delivered. Akers has already noticed the way they recruit his family. Remember that part? The way UGA is already doing that is a big reason why he’s interested in UGA.
Akers regards Smart as a family-oriented guy. He also placed both new running backs coach Dell McGee and first-year offensive coordinator Jim Chaney in the “great guy” column. He referenced the facilities in place in Athens and called UGA a “great school.”
He also noted the potential for Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to be in their swan song years in Athens, given their skills and work habits.
“I could possibly come in and play (at UGA) as a freshman,” he said. “It’s just a great school.”
McGee has also reinforced a message that aligns with what Akers is looking for.
“He’s been telling me that I can come in and compete for a starting spot,” Akers said. “We have just been building a good relationship. He’s a really laid back guy. He knows how to be energetic when he needs to be and he knows when it’s time for business. He’s a well-rounded man.”
That’s sounds promising for UGA’s chances, but bear in mind that the nation’s No. 3 back will be at FSU this weekend and not at UGA for G-Day.
Akers believes he can play at any school as a freshman and said on Sunday UGA, Auburn, Ohio State, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Tennessee all offer the best depth chart options at his position. Watch those Magnolia State schools, as Akers rates as the top prospect in Mississippi this fall.
The Clinton High School product (Clinton, Miss.) de-committed because he wanted to be sure he was making the right decision. That’s why he backed away from Alabama’s surging running back tradition of late.
He said on Sunday he still has a great relationship with the Tide and has noticed the school has picked up their interest in him even after his de-commitment. Najee Harris, the nation’s top-rated back, is already committed there. So is 4-star Tuscaloosa prep star Brian Robinson.
Those elements may actually remedy a worry.
“I don’t want to go to a school and be a workhorse either,” he said. “It’s good to have another back there with you.”
Akers has no official visits on his mind yet and also will look hard at the in-state schools which reside in the SEC West.
“They’re recruiting me very well,” Akers said. “I have great relationships with both coaching staffs. They also have great situations at running back.”
— DH (@_DHodges) April 10, 2016
G-Day, Georgia’s annual spring football scrimmage, is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 16, at Sanford Stadium. Check back here daily for DawgNation’s G-Day coverage brought to you by Georgia United Credit Union.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges. Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.