The last time Cam Akers of the Los Angeles Rams wore No. 3, he left Florida State with 2,874 career rushing yards and joined Seminole greats Dalvin Cook and Warrick Dunn as the school’s only running backs with multiple 1,000-yard seasons.
Akers additionally became a coveted five-star high school prospect and the state of Mississippi’s No. 1 overall prospect for the 2017 class while rocking the No. 3. Now, Akers is back wearing the number from his garnet and gold and Clinton High School days, taking advantage of the NFL’s new rule allowing running backs to wear single-digit numbers for gamedays. The number switch is new motivation for the second-year back to take new leaps with his career.
“I’ve been No. 3 since I was like 6,” Akers told reporters during a May 27 Zoom video conference. “That’s always been my favorite number, my childhood number growing up all the way through high school, college, whatever sport I played. I guess it’s my lucky number. I’m blessed to have it. I’m blessed to be able to play with it again and bring it here with me.”
Akers’ Best Moments Wearing No. 3
Akers collected a litany of accolades with the Arrows and unleashed an assault on the school’s record books.
He was named the 2016 Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Mississippi as a dual-threat quarterback: Combining for 5,233 yards and 65 touchdowns all in his senior year. But residents of Clinton likely remember the dynamic playmaker who guided the Arrows to the program’s first and only Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A championship in 2016.
Following the 15-1 season, the awards continued for Akers. Not only was he named to the 2017 U.S Army All-American game, he won the Player of the Year award before the contest. One notable running back he beat out for the award? Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 first rounder and Alabama record-breaker Najee Harris.
Akers immediately worked his way into the FSU offense and responded with the first of two 1,000-yard seasons: Busting through 13 different defenses en route to 1,024 yards and seven touchdowns. He left Tallahassee after the 2019 season, totaling a career-high 1,144 yards and 18 combined scores (14 rushing).
Readjusting to His Favorite Number
Now assigned No. 23 by the Rams, Akers showed signs of his pro potential on December 10. He gashed the New England Patriots with 171 yards on 29 carries, averaging 5.9 yards a carry.
But the rest of the season saw a high ankle sprain and only 625 total rushing yards accompanied with just two rushing touchdowns. It wasn’t the impact the Rams were looking for, yet Akers told reporters he’s getting more acclimated with everything involving the Rams.
“Mentally, everything has slowed down. Everything is easier for me,” Akers said. “I understand the playbook a lot more, I understand the blocking schemes, I understand who I need to block and just understanding a lot more. Physically, it’s just work. I’m still working right now.”
Veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth has witnessed the calm side of Akers, telling reporters “He’s just so relaxed back there. That’s a trait and a mentality that shows you that he’s wired different and he’s somebody that expects to perform well and I think guys are excited to see him do his thing and continue to grow.”
Head coach Sean McVay was another who raved about Akers’ development in the June 4 Zoom video conference call.
“The biggest thing that you would talk about, he’s got great natural run instincts, he’s really talented as a pass-catcher, it’s the nuanced understanding of where you fit in on some of the protections when the back is involved and I think it’s just continuing to become more and more complete,” McVay said.
Now that Akers has his childhood number on his chest and back again, he’s hoping to keep it moving forward.
“Hopefully, I make it my own. That number has a lot of value to me when I was in my roughest times in my life,” Akers said. “I feel like I’m at my strongest (wearing the number) – not literally at my strongest, but that’s how I feel.”