Baseball diamond to the gridiron


UCF Athletics

Akins has spent the last four years in the Texas Rangers minor league system.

A veteran receiving core is a major strength for UCF football going into the 2014 season, as the Knights return their top three receiving yards leaders from last season. Seniors J.J. Worton and Ranell Hall will anchor the group, but it could be a freshman that has head coach George O’Leary most excited.

“The kid that’s really impressed me out there is this Jordan Akins,” said O’Leary. “He’s a new kid that we signed four years ago as a wide receiver out of Georgia, but he went to baseball. He is a kid that can be the surprise player of the year on this team…he’s a great kid, very mature and he’s done everything we’ve asked of him so far.”

Akins, 22, will strap up the shoulder pads for a game for the first time in four years this weekend against the Nittany Lions. Akins has spent the last four seasons in the Texas Rangers farm system, where he was drafted in the third round of the 2010 MLB Draft.

“Baseball was my dream sport,” said Akins. “I prayed about it and said if I got drafted within the first three rounds I would go.”

Akins had a .218 batting average as an outfielder in his minor league career, including a .283 mark in 2011. He also boasted 24 homers and 42 stolen bases in 321 minor-league games. Throughout his baseball playing career, Akins continued to keep football on his radar with UCF also in the back of his mind.

“In high school I had come to a couple games and talked to the coaches and I kind of got the feel for it, and I kind of just fell in love with it,” said Akins. “I felt at home, and figured UCF was for me.”

An all-state selection as a senior at Union Grove High School, Akins was recruited by some of the nation’s top programs, including the University of Georgia, LSU, Georgia Tech, and the University of Tennessee to play football. However, getting the opportunity to help out his family weighed heavy on his decision to choose baseball instead of football.

“I come from a single mother home, four boys, so that’s tough,” said Akins. “I made my decision out of high school based on my family situation.”

The youngest of his brothers, Akins says he had the full backing of his family when the thought of switching sports surfaced.

“They told me they would support me in whatever I did, and it really made my choice a lot easier,” said Akins.

Coach O’Leary’s face lights up when talking about the potential and versatility the 6’3, 237 pound Akins possesses. Akins size and skill-set could and should come in handy for new quarterback Pete DiNovo. Number 88 is definitely a player to keep your eyes on this season.