The Alabama offensive backfield has thrived throughout head coach Nick Saban’s nine-year tenure, producing Heisman Trophy finalists and first-round NFL draft picks.
The Crimson Tide continue to stock that cupboard on an annual basis, evidenced yet again by a Tuesday evening commitment from coveted Mississippi playmaker Cam Akers. A junior at Clinton High School, he becomes the sixth member of Alabama’s 2017 recruiting class.
Very blessed to announce that I’ve verbally committed to THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA 🐘❤️ pic.twitter.com/YIUrHkvObI
— Cam akers (@thereal_cam3) August 4, 2015
“It’s a very big deal to play for Nick Saban,” Akers told Bleacher Report. “He produces successful young men who are also prepared for life after football. That’s really what it’s all about. I have a great relationship with Coach Saban and his staff.”
The Crimson Tide welcomed him to campus Tuesday, nearly four months after extending a scholarship offer. Akers, a 4-star prospect, arrived in Tuscaloosa tempted to commit on the spot and ultimately opted to take that plunge.
“I’ve been thinking about committing for a while. During the visit, I saw and heard everything I needed to see and hear,” he said. “That really put things over the top and made my decision.”
Alabama adds to a class that already features Najee Harris, a 5-star rusher rated No. 1 among running backs in composite rankings. Akers, situated fifth on that list, further enhances a position that’s also set to welcome top-five 2016 prospect B.J. Emmons next summer.
The Tide signed heralded 2015 running back Damien Harris in February. Including his 2017 haul, Saban has secured nine rushers rated in the top five at the position in their respective classes since 2011.
Naturally, carries can be hard to come by in a group loaded with former All-Americans.
“I rise to the occasion when faced with competition. I haven’t been raised to back down from competition,” Akers said. “I go straight for it, and that’s what I’m going to do in college. I’m not even going to think about any other top recruits coming in.”
He starred at quarterback last season, tallying 2,696 total yards and 37 touchdowns. Akers averaged 5.4 yards per carry and landed on the national recruiting radar for his mobility.
“Running back is my focus at the next level,” he said. “I would also love to return kicks and try to make some big plays that way.”
Akers certainly has the speed and athleticism to excel on special teams. He completed the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds while attending a recent camp at Georgia, per Rivals.com.
The 5’11”, 210-pound standout is also a formidable downfield weapon. He expects Alabama to exploit his receiving skills by shifting him into different settings as a dynamic offensive asset.
“They know I can motion out and bring the linebacker with me to open things up. They talk about using me in different ways,” Akers said. “It’s primarily running back, but there will be opportunities to line up all over the field.”
He recalled watching Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy, T.J. Yeldon, Mark Ingram, Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake take turns in the spotlight as vital members of the Tide rushing attack. Akers is confident he can measure up to a lofty legacy in the Alabama backfield.
“There have been some great running backs with the program. I think I can be a combination of them all,” he said. “I’m able to run and catch out of the backfield. Not many players are equally successful at both, so it’s a big deal for me.”
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Akers, who recorded four 100-yard rushing efforts during a 10-win sophomore campaign, feels equipped to handle the pressure-packed situations that may await at Alabama.
“You can depend on me to make the important plays. When it’s third down in the fourth quarter, I’m going to get the job done,” he said.
Clinton High School head coach Judd Boswell vehemently vouched for his team’s catalyst.
“He’s the best damn high school football player I’ve ever seen in my life,” Boswell told Drew Champlin of AL.com. “He’s a special kid. His will, his drive to succeed, he’s just a different type of kid. He’s one of those kids you coach once in a lifetime.”
Akers expects to return to Tuscaloosa for an unofficial visit this season. He is eyeing the Tide’s games against Ole Miss (Sept. 19) and LSU (Nov. 7) as potential trip opportunities.
Despite his excitement surrounding Alabama, Akers isn’t ready to completely shut down a widespread recruitment.
“I’ll still be listening to other schools and visiting some campuses as the process continues,” he said.
Tennessee, Michigan, LSU, Georgia and a pair of in-state programs are among suitors unlikely to stop pursuing the prized prospect
“Since Ole Miss and Mississippi State were my first two offers, there is definitely some pressure to stay here. Other schools have also really recruited me hard,” Akers said. “In the end, I have to do what’s best for me and my family. Right now, that means I’m going to Alabama.”
Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports’ composite ratings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake.