Eight years ago, Jordan Akins had the choice between playing football at the University of Central Florida or professional baseball.
When the Texas Rangers drafted him in the third round of the 2010 MLB Draft, Akins opted for the latter. 24 homers, 42 stolen bases and 321 minor-league games later, Akins returned to UCF to pursue football.
A talented multi-sport athlete, Akins displayed an athleticism that was hard for the Houston Texas to pass up when they saw his name on the draft board Friday night.
"Unique skillset," general manager Brian Gaine said. "6'3" and change, 245, 250 pounds. 4.6 40 guy. He's a good athlete. Jordan strikes me as the type of player that if you put a ball in his hand, he'd be good at it. Baseball, basketball, football, tennis – whatever it might be. We like his upside as it relates to the passing game, but we also want to develop him in the run game, too. We need him to do that as well. I think it's the athletic upside and the ceiling. We feel like the ceiling can be pretty high if he hits all cylinders."
Akins transitioned back to football, as a wide receiver and kick returner. By his final season in 2017, he was named to the John Mackey Award Preseason Watch list, honoring the nation's top tight ends. In his 11 starts, Akins recorded career highs in yards (459), touchdowns (4) and catches (30). Blocking was such a big part of the passing game at UCF, that skill players even coined the phrase: no block, no rock.
"That's true," Akins said via phone on Texans Radio. "If you did not block, you did not get the rock. Period. We blocked downfield, we come off the ball, we're blocking. Hands in the dirt, inside zone, outside zone, down the field, you know, next man. It didn't matter. If you didn't block, you would not play. You would not see the ball. Period."
Bill O'Brien had the opportunity to coach Akins at the 2018 Reese's Senior Bowl. While Akins can only guess how he would fit into a Texans offense with Deshaun Watson, he got an early taste of what playing for O'Brien would be like.
"It was great," Akins said. "Bonding with O'Brien and being able to showcase my talent for him and kind of have an understanding of where he would use me in the offense, I see it as a blessing. I see it as a great opportunity. I'm ready to go to work and I'm ready to represent Texas. You know, I was drafted by the Texas Rangers and now I get a chance to play for Houston. This is a huge opportunity and a huge blessing for me."
The Texans selected Akins with the 34th pick in the third round (98th overall) of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Check out photos of the Texans 98 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Jordan Akins.