Many athletes coming out of high school strive to be highly recruited in one sport; almost no student athletes have the luxury of being heavily recruited in two different sports.
Most student athletes do not have the talent UCF tight end Jordan Akins has.
The Atlanta native attended Union Grove High School and Strong Rock Christian School, where he was a star playing football, baseball, and basketball.
Akins was named all-conference his sophomore year in football. To follow that season, Akins transferred to Strong Rock Christian School where he earned all-state honors. Akins than transferred back to Union Grove for his senior season where he was an all-state team selection for a second straight year.
Akins attracted offers from prominent SEC and ACC schools like Tennessee, Georgia Tech, LSU, and the hometown Georgia Bulldogs.
Despite big-name schools showing interest in Akins, he had a verbal commitment to UCF and was a member of the 2010 UCF football signing class.
“Between football and baseball I had colleges bashing me,” Akins said. “I really just felt pressure to go to the University of Georgia and the Florida’s. I just felt like everyone was pressuring me like ‘Oh, you’re going to here; you’re going to go there.’ And UCF was a perfect fit. I came down here for junior day to tag along and I really liked the facility and I really liked the vibes of the coaches and the players. It became one of my interests.”
Football wasn’t the only passion for Akins though.
Akins had been playing baseball since he was 3 years old and always had a dream of playing professionally.
“Baseball was always my dream,” Akins said. “I played a lot of travel ball, played against Bryce Harper and Delino DeShields. I really got my name out there and I always told my parents if I get my chance to chase my dream–getting drafted out of high school–and if I got drafted in the top five rounds, I would probably take my chance playing baseball.”
And that’s what happened June 20, 2010.
Akins was selected by the Texas Rangers in the third round of the 2010 MLB Draft straight out of high school.
Despite being a member of the 2010 UCF football signing class, Akins signed a deal that included a $350,000 signing bonus with the Rangers.
“I let [George] O’Leary know,” Akins said. “I let everyone know my plan so when it came it wasn’t really a shocker to anyone. I left on really good terms and told him if I did return I would come play for him.”
Akins played four seasons in Minor League Baseball with three different teams. In 321 games, Akins hit .218 with 24 homeruns.
Akins always kept his passion for football and decided to call baseball quits when a 2013 Rangers Rule 5 Draft selection came and talked with the team.
“Russell Wilson came to spring training and talked to the team,” Akins said. “The floor was open for questions and I asked him when he knew it what the right time for him to go back and he said it was just a gut feeling. Right then I had been having this gut feeling for about a year so I knew right then and there it was time to go.”
Akins retired from Minor League Baseball on March 27, 2014 and joined the Knights shortly after.
The transition back to football was a lot of hard work, but Akins is grateful to be back playing a game he loves in a community he feels at home in.
“It’s been a blessing,” Akins said. “I came back and won my first ring ever with O’Leary and it was a great feeling. It was extra hard work, O’Leary was old school and tough, but I’m used to that background; Georgia, smash-mouth football. So I really enjoyed it.”
Akins as a 22-year-old true freshman, made his contribution to the team as a receiver and in special teams. He tallied 498 all-purpose yards in route to a 9-4 season for the Knights which included winning the American Athletic Conference east division.
Akins started his sophomore campaign developing into the Knights’ go-to receiver. In two games, Akins combined for 14 receptions, 152 yards and two touchdowns.
Unfortunately in week three of the 2015 season, his year came to an end.
Akins tore his ACL on the opening kickoff against Furman. What looked to be a standout season for the receiver, ended in heartbreak.
“It was devastating,” Akins said. “I was really looking forward to that season and I know I could have helped the team a lot more than what happened and how we finished. It was a humbling experience. Going into the rehab, it was so painful at first. Just going through it, it was a painful rehab but the more I rehab, the stronger I felt myself getting and the better I felt my body healing.”
Despite being medically cleared after a successful rehab, Akins is wearing a brace on his surgically repaired knee due to the doctor’s request.
Not only is Akins coming off a season-ending injury that caused him to miss nine games last season, but he is also being asked to switch positions.
In head coach Scott Frost’s offensive system, the 6-foot-3, 237 pounder will transition to tight end; a move Akins doesn’t mind as long as it helps the team.
“Making the transition now, playing tight end, with Coach Frost coming in, it’s just doing whatever I can do to help the team,” Akins said. “If he wants me playing tight end, I’m here playing tight end. Covering crack blocks, doing whatever I got to do to win.”
Akins’ contributions to the team’s success this season are apparent. He is second on the team in receiving yards with 278 and second in receiving touchdowns with two.
The 24-year-old redshirt sophomore has two more years of eligibility and will do whatever it takes to make it professionally in this sport.
“If God’s willing, [the goal is] to play a couple of years in the NFL. It just depends on how the NFL goes. I just don’t know, however it works out and plays out it’ll play out.”
Despite what happens with his football career, Akins has aspirations beyond the playing field.
“Starting a business … sporting goods,” Akins said. “Hopefully one day buy me a branch off ESPN and start a little bit of commentating; basically every athlete’s dream. Really just help a lot of people, give a lot of people jobs who really don’t have a shot who have degrees and have an education.
Whether it’s the NFL or ESPN in Akins’ future, he has his mind on education.
“Whether I’m in the NFL, before or after,” Akins said. “I plan on getting a degree.”