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Tony Akins (Canadian football)

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Tony Akins
Born: (1977-05-10) May 10, 1977 (age 41)
Starkville, Mississippi
Career information
Position(s) WR/SB
Height 5 ft 9 in (175 cm)
Weight 181 lb (82 kg)
College Northeast Louisiana
High school Starkville HS
Career history
As player
1999 Buffalo Bills*
19992003 Hamilton Tiger-Cats
*Off-season and/or practice squad only.
Career highlights and awards

Anthony Royell Akins (born May 10, 1977) is a former Canadian football wide receiver and slotback who played for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League (CFL) from 1999 to 2003. He played in 61 regular season games, catching 121 receptions for 2,138 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also returned punts and kickoffs. Akins is a Grey Cup champion.

Akins played high school football at Starkville High School before playing at East Mississippi Community College. He later transferred to Eastern Louisiana University and played for the Warhawks. After going unselected in the 1999 NFL Draft, Akins was signed by the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League but was cut before the beginning of the regular season. He was signed by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats shortly after and spent his first two seasons moving between the practice squad and the active roster, playing in 9 games each season and contributing heavily on special teams. Akins transitioned to a more offensive role in 2001, but his career was interrupted in later seasons by repeated injuries.

Early career

Akins began playing high school football at Starkville High School as a freshman. Due to his small size, Akins rarely played. As a senior, he was ruled ineligible for academic reasons but continued practicing with the football team throughout the season. Akins was also able to participate on the track and field team, running sprints. After Akins impressed his high school football coach by practicing despite his ineligibility, the coach invited East Mississippi Community College to look at Akins. A representative of East Mississippi attended a track and field meet where Akins won the 100 metres and offered him a scholarship to play college football shortly afterward.[1]

Akins went on to play at both East Mississippi and Northeast Louisiana University. In his first game at East Mississippi, Akins returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown. Although Akins developed at East Mississippi and with the Northeast Louisiana Indians, he remained at least second on the depth chart, playing behind Quincy Jackson at East Mississippi and Marty Booker at Northeast Louisiana.[1] Akins played with the Indians through 1998,[2] when he featured as the team's kick returner and led his team with 1,269 all-purpose yards.[3]

Professional career

Akins declared for the 1999 NFL Draft, where he went unsigned. The Buffalo Bills later signed him to fill their final roster slot at wide receiver in training camp.[1] In late August, they released Akins prior to the start of the regular season.[4]

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Within a week of being cut from the Bills, Akins was signed by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to their practice squad.[5] After Curtis Jackson was released from the Tiger-Cats, Akins was moved to the active roster to replace him as part of the punt and kick return rotation.[6] On September 12, Akins made his CFL debut against the Montreal Alouettes, where he averaged 21 yards on kick returns.[3] Akins was named Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in an October game against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, where he caught eight passes for 257 yards and four touchdowns.[1][7] In early November, he was named Special Teams Player of the Week after returning three kicks for over 100 yards.[8] The Tiger-Cats won the 87th Grey Cup with Akins contributing four catches for 43 yards.[9]

Akins returned to the Tiger-Cats for the 2000 season. In July, he returned a punt from Lui Passaglia 65 yards for a touchdown.[10] In mid-September, Akins started in place of the injured Darren Flutie, but he was later moved to the practice squad in October.[11][12] He returned for the final game of the regular season and returned a punt for his second 65-yard touchdown of the season.[13] The Tiger-Cats lost the East Semi-Final 22–20 to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers after an offensive interference penalty was assessed on Akins in the final minutes of the game. The Hamilton Spectator described the penalty as "ill-deserved".[14] Akins finished the season sixth in the CFL with 393 punt return yards. He was also the league leader in punt return touchdowns.[15]

On December 12, 2000, the Tiger-Cats announced that they had re-signed Akins.[15] Due to the CFL's import ratio requirements, Hamilton Spectator reporter Steve Milton speculated that Akins would be cut before the regular season.[16] Instead, Akins made the regular season roster and regularly started at wide receiver for the first time in his career.[17] Due to Akins' speed, he was moved to the slotback position in August.[18] He later lost his starting position to wide receiver Corey Grant but continued to see regular playing time.[19] Akins was held out of two games entirely near the end of the season to allow offensive lineman Gary Brown to return from the injured list.[20] Akins' role as a receiver increased in the 2001 season, and he finished his season with 29 catches for 461 receiving yards. Conversely, his role as a kick and punt returner decreased substantially. Akins averaged 5.1 yards per punt return and 15.5 yards per kickoff return, decreasing from 10.3 yards and 24.0 yards in the 2000 season, respectively.[21]

Akins became a free agent before the 2002 season. The Montreal Alouettes expressed interest in signing Akins, but he decided to re-sign with the Tiger-Cats in May shortly before a deadline imposed by head coach Ron Lancaster.[22][23] In a pre-season game, Akins suffered a collarbone injury when a player's face mask was driven into his chest. He returned in mid-July.[24] In his second game of the season, Akins scored three touchdowns. He scored in each of the two following games as well.[25] Akins' success was interrupted in late August when he re-injured his collarbone with deep bruising.[26] After Akins returned, he caught an 84-yard touchdown while accumulating 150 receiving yards against the Alouettes.[27] The Hamilton Tiger-Cats did not qualify for the playoffs in 2002, but Akins had his most successful season, catching 38 receptions for 732 yards and 7 touchdowns. All three values were career-highs for the wide receiver.[21]

Akins re-signed with the Tiger-Cats before the start of the 2003 season.[28] He was moved around in various positions throughout the season. Before the beginning of the season, Akins was designated the starting slotback, but he quickly lost the job to Trevor Shaw.[29][30] He was later moved back to his original position at wide receiver.[31] After missing games due to leg and knee injuries,[32][33] Akins finished the season with 482 receiving yards and two touchdowns.[21]

In 2004, Akins was cut from the Tiger-Cats during the preseason after facing competition from seven import receivers and five Canadians.[34]

Season statistics

[21] Receiving Rushing Punt returns Kick returns Misc
Year Team GP Rec Yds Avg Long TD Att Yds Avg Long TD PR Yds Avg Long TD KR Yds Avg Long TD Tkls FUM FR
1999 HAM 9 17 375 22.1 70 4 1 7 7.0 7 0 18 151 8.4 38 0 18 381 21.2 45 0 0 0 0
2000 HAM 9 7 88 12.6 20 0 1 −1 −1.0 −1 0 38 393 10.3 67 2 2 48 24.0 43 0 4 1 0
2001 HAM 16 29 461 15.9 55 1 1 7 7.0 7 0 35 178 5.1 16 0 4 62 15.5 23 0 0 1 1
2002 HAM 13 38 732 19.3 84 7 0 0 0.0 0 0 5 31 6.2 12 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 1 1 1
2003 HAM 14 30 482 16.1 56 2 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 61 121 2,138 17.7 84 14 3 13 4.3 7 0 96 753 7.8 67 2 24 491 20.5 45 0 5 3 2

Personal life

Akins is divorced and has four children.[35]

References

  1. ^ a b c d Sicinski, Larry (October 12, 1999). "Newest Tiger-Cat Played Second Fiddle on Way Up". Hamilton Spectator. p. E1. 
  2. ^ Harry, Chris (September 12, 1998). "Northeast Louisiana At Florida". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved May 14, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Sicinski, Larry (September 15, 1999). "Akins Opens Some Eyes in Debut". Hamilton Spectator. p. F1. 
  4. ^ "Transactions". Hartford Courant. August 31, 1999. Retrieved May 14, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Notes". Hamilton Spectator. September 6, 1999. p. S13. 
  6. ^ Sicinski, Larry (September 10, 1999). "Cats Awarded for Their Labour". Hamilton Spectator. p. E5. 
  7. ^ "Akins Raises Ticat Hopes". Toronto Star. October 16, 1999. 
  8. ^ Sicinski, Larry (November 4, 1999). "Awards secondary to Ticats". Hamilton Spectator. 
  9. ^ MacIntyre, Iain (November 29, 1999). "Nothing memorable for Dickenson : The Stampeders' quarterback will remember three painful hours in which he refused to quit although his shoulder hurt every time he threw. Most painful were the passes that were not caught". Vancouver Sun. p. C4. 
  10. ^ "Lions take bite out of Cats: B.C. rallies from 17-point deficit to surprise Hamilton". Calgary Herald. July 8, 2000. p. C4. 
  11. ^ Petrie, Michael (September 16, 2000). "Dickenson star of today's drama". Calgary Herald. p. E6. 
  12. ^ Sicinski, Larry (October 5, 2000). "Ticats decide they don't need a Beveridge". Hamilton Spectator. p. C03. 
  13. ^ Sicinski, Larry (November 6, 2000). "Streak's over, just in time; Ticats now head into playoffs having ended ugly five-game tailspin". Hamilton Spectator. p. B01. 
  14. ^ Milton, Steve (November 13, 2000). "Late-season swoon taught Cats to lose". Hamilton Spectator. p. D06. 
  15. ^ a b "Ticats re-sign Akins". Globe and Mail. December 12, 2000. p. S6. 
  16. ^ Milton, Steve (June 14, 2001). "Akins trying to find his place; Import receiver willing to do whatever the team needs. He just hopes they need him". Hamilton Spectator. p. E05. 
  17. ^ Beamish, Mike (July 12, 2001). "Game Day". Vancouver Sun. p. F2. 
  18. ^ Milton, Steve (August 30, 2001). "Lancaster gives former Ticat-Argo fresh start". Hamilton Spectator. p. E01. 
  19. ^ Hemsworth, Wade (May 2, 2002). "Deadline imposed on Ticat free agents". Hamilton Spectator. p. E01. 
  20. ^ Hemsworth, Wade (October 27, 2001). "Ticats to battle Als for home-field edge". Hamilton Spectator. p. E01. 
  21. ^ a b c d Maher, Tod; Gill, Bob (2013). The Canadian Pro Football Encyclopedia: Every Player, Coach and Game, 1946–2012. Maher Sports Media. p. 141. ISBN 978-0983513667. 
  22. ^ Zurkowsky, Herb (February 19, 2002). "Money is Alouettes' big hurdle". The Gazette. p. E8. 
  23. ^ Hemsworth, Wade (May 9, 2002). "Akins signs but conditions attached to deal; Tiger-Cat coach expects more out of receiver in 2002". Hamilton Spectator. p. C01. 
  24. ^ Hemsworth, Wade (July 11, 2002). "Akins returns to Ticat lineup; Veteran wide receiver helps injury-depleted roster tackle Stamps". Hamilton Spectator. p. E05. 
  25. ^ Hemsworth, Wade (August 8, 2002). "Akins discovers recipe for success". Hamilton Spectator. p. E03. 
  26. ^ "Game Notes". Hamilton Spectator. August 22, 2002. p. E04. 
  27. ^ Hemsworth, Wade (September 16, 2002). "Ticats' win a true thriller; Amerson's overtime TD beats the Als". Hamilton Spectator. p. B01. 
  28. ^ Hemsworth, Wade (April 12, 2003). "Committed to the Cats; Akins and Hitchcock sign new contracts to solidify veteran core". Hamilton Spectator. p. E06. 
  29. ^ Hemsworth, Wade (July 11, 2003). "Danny could unleash Ticats". Hamilton Spectator. p. E01. 
  30. ^ Hemsworth, Wade (July 15, 2003). "Ticats hope to taste victory with Beveridge". Hamilton Spectator. p. E01. 
  31. ^ Hemsworth, Wade (July 18, 2003). "'We didn't pick the right people'; Woes began at camp: Lancaster". Hamilton Spectator. p. E02. 
  32. ^ Hemsworth, Wade (September 11, 2003). "Hodge debuts against Riders; New Cat receiver will get to start". Hamilton Spectator. p. E01. 
  33. ^ Beamish, Mike (October 18, 2003). "Game Day". Vancouver Sun. p. E5. 
  34. ^ Peters, Ken (June 3, 2004). "Tiger-Cats drop receiver Akins; Glut of pass-catchers remain at camp". Hamilton Spectator. p. SP12. 
  35. ^ Hemsworth, Wade (November 5, 2002). "Will QB, coach return?". Hamilton lSpectator. p. E01. 
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