If there was one bright spot in the disastrous 2017 season for Florida State, it was the emergence of Cam Akers at running back.
A five-star freshman, it took until the fourth game of the season for Akers to have his first 100-yard performance. He would eclipse that mark thrice more, en route to breaking Dalvin Cook’s freshman rushing record.
Akers finished his freshman season with 1,025 rushing yards and seven touchdowns while adding 116 receiving yards and a score as well. He also showcased his passing abilities from high school, tossing a 47-yard pass in Florida State’s game against Boston College.
While Akers isn’t the fastest player on the team, he has enough speed in the open field to run away from defenders. He is also a very powerful player and is strong enough to drag defenders to get tough yards as well.
But while Akers was phenomenal as a freshman, it is clear that the talented 5-11, 213-pound sophomore from Mississippi has not yet reached his potential.
After all, Akers was a quarterback in high school. His freshman season in Tallahassee was the first time he has devoted to the running back position. While he is a naturally talented runner, the nuances of the position, like receiving and pass blocking, are still a work in progress.
Once he learns those, it is clear that Akers will be a special player for the ’Noles.
Akers shows off his receiving skills. Make a man look silly. Nice. pic.twitter.com/hmQvNzfs7M— Dakota Moyer (@DakMoyer) September 3, 2017
But Florida State does not have to ride Akers into the ground this season.
With Jacques Patrick returning for his senior season, FSU will have one of the best running back tandems in the country.
At 6-3, 235-pounds, Patrick is a bigger back, more suited to breaking tackles than running away from people in the open field. He spent the first two years of his career in Tallahassee as the No. 2 back behind Cook, but enjoyed a breakout season as a junior with 748 yards and seven scores despite missing time with injury.
If Akers is the lightning, Patrick is the thunder. The senior from Orlando averaged 5.6 yards per rush last season, often times grinding out tough yardage behind poor run blocking. Patrick is also good in pass protection and has 31 receptions throughout his career, making him the perfect change-of-pace back for Willie Taggart’s Gulf Coast offense.
Behind Akers and Patrick are a plethora of talented runners that could contribute if needed.
Amir Rasul has seen limited playing time through his first two seasons, but will likely be FSU’s primary kick returner this season. The electric junior possesses insane track speed and is a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. Be on the lookout for Taggart to incorporate his speed on jet-sweeps in the new offense.
Khalan Laborn and Zaquandre White are two former blue-chip recruits that redshirted in their first seasons on campus. Now redshirt freshmen, look for them to have defined roles in Taggart’s offense. Laborn was tagged as an all-purpose back in high school and could contribute in the passing game early in the season.
One position that we will not see on the field this year is the fullback, marking the end of an era for Florida State football. But more on that in our future previews. With the Seminoles moving to a spread offense under Taggart, former fullbacks on the roster, like Jonathan Vickers and Gabe Nabers, have been reclassified as tight ends.
Even with questions at quarterback, whoever starts under center will have many talented running backs in the backfield. Akers is primed to be a star, Patrick is already a seasoned veteran, and the ’Noles have blue-chips waiting in the wings. Get ready for the Gulf Coast offense to run all over defenses.