February 10, 2010

Sky is the limit for Akins

Jordan Akins may be the most dynamic player in UCF's 2010 recruiting class.

Major League Baseball scouts love the 6-foot-4, 200-pounder's ability as an outfielder, while schools like UCF coveted his skills as a big-play wide receiver. In fact, the Knights accomplished what few schools are able to do - they won a head-to-head recruiting battle for Akins against the in-state Georgia Bulldogs.

"It's pretty much a Bulldog school," UCF head coach George O'Leary. "When he went into the room (to announce his decision), it was decorated in all black and red and he announced for UCF. I have a great deal of respect for that youngster to stand up to the pressure they were putting on him. We're really happy to have him. He's one of the top players in Georgia."

Akins flew somewhat under the radar his first three years of high school, attending Strong Rock Christian, who competes in Georgia's lowest classification. It didn't take long though for college recruiters to discover him after he transferred to Union Grove as a senior. The offers soon rolled in from schools like Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and LSU.

"I think probably the biggest recruiting coup that people in Florida may not realize is for the University of Central Florida to go into the heart of the state of Georgia, Atlanta, and get a kid that the University of Georgia had to get," assistant head coach David Kelly said. "Georgia had lost several other receivers and had just lost one player that was already committed to them. Jordan Akins was a player they had to have and they put full forces out to get him.

"For Jordan to stand up and say, 'I'm going to the University of Central Florida,' once again it tells you about the type of caliber kid that he is."

Akins wants to play both football and baseball in college and that's all right with O'Leary as long as he takes care of his football and academic responsibilities. Kelly is excited about Akins' potential at receiver.

"Jordan is an outstanding athlete," Kelly said. "When you're 6-4, 200 pounds and running a 40 in the low 4.4's, that's what the baseball people love about him too. He has great upside."

Kelly compared Akins to a young Brandon Marshall, who was a similar size (as well as a raw talent) coming out of high school.

"You hate to say that because it puts undue pressure on anyone, but the point I'm making is the kid has unlimited potential," Kelly said. "Even though he's a tremendous baseball prospect, and I understand he's one of the top 10 prospects in the state of Georgia in that regard, but his football ceiling is even higher."

Even though UCF might have won the recruiting battle on National Signing Day, they'll have to wait until later this summer to see if Akins makes it to campus. He could be drafted in June's MLB First-Year Player Draft and would have the option of playing professional baseball immediately.

That said, Kelly doesn't think it's offbase to believe he'd have a shot at a professional football career a few years down the road.

"I believe Jordan has a tremendous future in football," Kelly said. "I'm very, very excited about him. He's a great character kid. He has a tremendous work habit. He has tremendous passion and commitment to be successful. Those elements, along with what the good Lord has given him in size, strength and ability, the combination of those elements is what's going to make him something special."

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