TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – While much of the build-up to Florida State’s game against ULM is focused on the Seminoles’ quest for a 36th-straight bowl game, there’s another small piece of history on the line, too.
With 813 rushing yards through the Seminoles’ first 11 games, running back Cam Akers sits just 195 yards back of Dalvin Cook for FSU’s all-time freshman rushing record.
Cook set the mark with 1,008 yards in 2014, and went on to claim school records for career rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.
Cook beat Greg Allen, who ran for 888 yards in 1981, 13 games into the season.
Akers has a chance to do it in 12. And given that ULM surrenders an average of 226.2 rushing yards per game – which ranks 119th out of 130 teams in the country – it stands to reason that the chance is a pretty good one.
“I knew it, man,” junior safety Derwin James said. “I knew, just because of the way he’s been working. He was a very hungry guy coming in, a very strong guy. He’s got speed and everything.
“He showed a lot traits that Dalvin had.”
The other names near the top of the list read like a who’s who of FSU greats at the position.
Allen (888 yards in 1981) held the freshman record for more than 30 years, and the career mark for 12. Roosevelt Snipes (629, 1983), Travis Minor (623, 1997), Larry Key (602, 1974) and Devonta Freeman (579, 2011) round out the top six.
A former five-star prospect, Akers no doubt has talent comparable to his new company. But, per FSU coach Jimbo Fisher, it takes more than just ability to produce at such a high level. Especially so early in a career.
“When you get on those kind of lists, with those kinds of people, it’s not just talent that puts you there,” Fisher said. “It’s character, it’s toughness, it’s discipline, it’s sacrifice.
“I think what those young guys realize (about) those numbers around here by some of those guys (is) how they’re earned. God blessed you (with talent), but they also had something special inside to be able to get to that level. For him to be even mentioned in that is pretty special.”
Which is why, even as Akers is on the verge of carving his name in program lore for the first time, none of his teammates believe he’s paying it any mind.
Instead, they say that the freshman is focused on the bigger-picture goal: Beating ULM and ensuring a trip to the postseason.
Do that, and Akers would get one more chance to claim the record. Or further distance himself from the pack.
“I don’t think he has his mind set on that,” junior receiver Auden Tate said. “He’s just doing what he does. Whenever is number is called, whenever the ball comes his way, he just makes plays with it.”
Added James: “He’s a guy that shows up to work every day. And he pushes us to another level.”