Akins played extensively as a wide receiver and kick returner in 2014. He started at wide receiver the first two games of 2015 before being injured on the opening kickoff the third game of the season. With a healthy knee and new head coach Scott Frostbringing a new offensive philosophy, Akins made the move to tight end last season. He played in all 13 games with seven starts and ranked No. 3 on the team with 23 receptions for 347 receiving yards. Two of his catches went for touchdowns. Akins led the team with 15.1 yards per catch.
NFL Hall of Fame member John Mackey is considered to be the best to have played the tight end position. A tight end by whom all others are measured, Mackey was a role model on and off the field as demonstrated by his Super Bowl Championship, his commitment to community and his place in history as the first President of the NFLPA.
The John Mackey Award has been presented since 2000 and is given annually to the most outstanding collegiate tight end. The award recipient is selected by vote of the John Mackey Award Selection Committee. The 2017 Mackey Award recipient will be announced on December 6 and then presented live on December 7 at The Home Depot College Football Awards Red Carpet Show on ESPNU.