Florida State on cusp of having two top-10 RB’s in the NFL

Seminole fans had the luxury from 2014 to 2019 seeing two superstars run wild in Tallahassee. Cam Akers and Dalvin Cook both came to Florida State as prized recruits, and both left with historic resumes. Now, both could be entering the upcoming NFL season as perennial top 10 running backs after falling to the second round in their respective draft classes. 

As we all know, Cook left FSU as the all-time leading rusher (4,464), holder of most rushing yards in a season (1,765, 2016), and rushing touchdowns (46) in his three-year career. 

Cook was already looked at by most of the top five back in the league heading into last year. But, after signing a five year, $63 million extension before the season, Cook did not get complacent. Instead, he enjoyed a career year in Minnesota. 

He rushed for 1,557 yards (2nd in the NFL) on 312 attempts. Cook also found the end zone 16 times (tied for 2nd in the NFL). His performance was good enough to earn his second-straight Pro Bowl selection.

In a Week 8 win over the Green Bay Packers, Cook rushed for 163 yards on 30 carries for three touchdowns. He also caught a screen pass for a fourth touchdown. He became the first Vikings player to score four touchdowns in a game since Ahmad Rashad in 1979.

His historic numbers did not stop there. The following week, he notched a career-high 206 yards on 22 carries in a win over the Detroit Lions. He also scored two touchdowns. This performance made him the third Vikings player in history to reach 200 rushing yards in a single game (Adrian Peterson and Chuck Foreman). 

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Akers came to FSU directly after Cook and had lofty expectations. As a true freshman, he rushed for 1,025 yards, the most by a freshman in Seminole history. Despite an inconsistent sophomore season, Akers bounced back in his junior year and left the program sixth all-time in career rushing yards (2,874) and single-season rushing yards (1,144, 2019). He is seventh all-time in career touchdowns with 27.

For Akers, his professional success did not come until late November due to a nagging rib injury.

In a Week 12 game against the San Francisco 49ers, the rookie broke away for a 61 yard run, the longest of his rookie season. He also scored his first touchdown of his professional career in the 23-20 loss. 

From that point forward, the Los Angeles backfield belonged to Akers. Over the next five weeks, Akers recorded 340 yards on 86 carries while missing one game due to an ankle injury. His yardage was the third most by any rookie in that span. 

The true highlight of Akers’ rookie season came on the biggest stage. In a road wild-card game against division rival Seattle Seahawks, Akers ran wild. He carried the ball 28 times for 131 yards and one touchdown. His 131 yards were good enough for a Rams franchise record for most rushing yards in a playoff game. 

With the addition of Matthew Stafford, Akers should see a boost in his receiving production and see more opportunities in space out of the backfield.

In conclusion, Akers and Cook each made history in some form during the 2020 season. With his job secure, Cook should not miss a beat and produce another Pro Bowl caliber season in 2021. For Akers, his historic stretch across the back half of last season should earn him a workhorse role for the NFC West favorites. If his playoff performance was any indication, he should put up elite numbers on the ground in 2021. Could he join Cook and give the ‘Noles two top-end running backs in the NFL simultaneously?

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