Year 3 Preview: Let's meet the 2015-16 Akron Zips
Before we enter Coach Luke's third season at the helm, we take a closer look at the Akron roster to get to know the players better.
We’re back for another installment in Akron’s quest for eternal glory in NCAA Football 14. For the uninitiated, feel free to check out the About page of the site to read about what we’re doing. We’ve had a fun first couple weeks here and, thanks to Ricky O’Donnell hyping us up, we’re getting hundreds of new subscribers every day.
We’ve thus far witnessed Coach Luke’s noble Year 1 season and his encouraging Year 2 season. With Year 3 on the horizon, today’s newsletter will introduce you to key players on the Zips before we play the season out. Some of Coach Luke’s recruits are finding their way onto the playing field, and it’s high time that we actually get invested in the players.
We are also doing this because football rosters are gigantic, and it’s hard to cover all of the interesting characters within a yearly recap post. This is your chance to meet the Zips and maybe find your favorite player for the upcoming season.
Before we dive into this, I’ve got some exciting news. One of our readers, Memorrowiv, created a subreddit for the series. It’s located at /r/rubbercitydynasty. While it’s a bit early in this series to have deep conversations about our Akron Zips, I encourage you to subscribe. It will be a fun place to chat about the series, post Zips memes, praise certain players, and analyze Coach Luke’s decisions. There’s a similar subreddit for Ricky’s Western Illinois series, and it adds a nice sense of community to this shared adventure.
Now, my friends, let’s dive in and meet your Year 3 Zips.
We’re going to hop into NCAA Football 14’s Practice mode to see a Spring Practice between our Zips. As a reminder, I am not actually controlling any on-the-field gameplay in this series. I do the recruiting, but I set the games to CPU versus CPU to watch what unfolds along with you.
Meet the Offense
This is an offense with a lot to like as well as a lot to be worried about. We will finally see the QB that we’ve been talking about in this newsletter for two seasons. We also have two promising tackles on the offensive line. The bad news is that we no longer have a star RB and our WR/TE situation is shaky. Click the graphic below to get a closer look at our starters.
I envision this being another run-first team due to the lack of receiving threats, and also because of Washington’s scrambling ability.
Here’s who you need to know about for Year 3…
The Star QB: Kenneth “K-Dubs” Washington
Coach Luke brought in Kenneth Washington (JR, RS) as the biggest prize of his Year 1 recruiting cycle. K-Dubs was set to leave a local junior college, but he’s a family guy first and foremost and wanted to stay close to his hometown of Mentor, OH. Coach Luke visited him on the shore of Lake Erie and was able to get K-Dubs to buy into his vision of turning Akron around. High character coaches get high character players, and Coach Luke proved that here.
K-Dubs has since become a mythical figure in Akron because of what he might do on the field. He prefers to be a quiet leader that lets his play do the talking, but he was redshirted last season so that play hasn’t done any talking yet.
In Year 3, he will finally play. He’s rated 88 overall with 90 Speed, 86 Acceleration, 85 Elusiveness, 86 Throw Accuracy, and 84 Throw Power. He’s the epitome of a dual-threat. If there’s any weakness, it’s that his 79 Awareness could lead to sloppy play at times.
Watching him in Spring Practice here, we see his solid throwing mechanics and quick release. He’s got all of the intangibles. He has to learn to go through his progressions and not always run if his first option isn’t open, but he’s coachable. We’re all about coachable kids here.
Being a local boy, K-Dubs has a chance to turn the University of Akron into the school for all Northeast Ohio athletes. It could maybe even become the Ohio state university. Heavy lies the crown.
The Backup QBs: Jim Carlson and “Clutch” Cortez Haumiller
Backing him up is the divisive Jim Carlson (SR, RS) of Twinsburg, OH. Carlson’s rated 84 overall with 91 Awareness (an important x-factor in this game). The problem is that he is slow as dirt. His 59 Speed, 60 Agility and 61 Acceleration just don’t just mesh with Coach Luke’s aggressive style. He was a holdover from the previous coach, and wasn’t built for this team.
On the other hand, “Clutch” Cortez Haumiller (SO, RS) fits this offense well. He’s just a kid from the little Amish town of Ephrata, PA. He’s now loving being the big man on campus after a breakout freshman year. He was not a Coach Luke recruit, but he saved Coach Luke’s job in Year 2. Despite butting heads with the Coach at times, Cortez took the job from Carlson and gave us glimpses of a young Lamar Jackson:
Cortez will still be on the team after K-Dubs graduates, and he may get his chance to run the offense again. This likely isn’t the last we hear from the flashy running QB.
The Little Engine That Could: RB Andrew Harvey
Andre Brown carried the load for two seasons as the 5’9” Andrew Harvey (SR, RS) waited in the wings. Harvey relies on his elusiveness to make things happen as you can see in the clip from the Spring Practice above. His short size makes him harder for defenses to track, like Darren Sproles in his prime. Harvey is another Ohio boy, hailing from Miamisburg, and he’s ready to carry the load this year.
Andrew’s favorite class at Akron? Accounting. Rumor says it’s because he’s all about taking care of business. It may also be because he likes accounting.
The Change Of Pace: RB Ryan West
Ryan West (FR) was recruited by Coach Luke last season as a pure athlete. With a team in need of running back options, Coach is giving West the shot to be a north-south back and another main offensive option. We run some two RB sets and, despite West’s 70 overall rating, he could be a difference-maker. He comes to us from Uniontown, PA, and he writes poetry in his spare time. Clearly another high character kid.
The Deep Threat: WR Lorenzo Jackson
We’re light on talent at the receiving positions. Lorenzo Jackson (FR, RS) represents both the present and the future for us though. He was Coach Luke’s best freshman recruit in the Year 1 cycle. He redshirted last year and is debuting this season with a 75 overall rating. Coach Luke traveled outside Akron’s pipeline states to recruit him by making a special trip to Providence, RI. Lorenzo was very impressed by the gesture.
Word has it that Lorenzo is a high character kid as well.
When it comes to receivers, we have one philosophy: “see ball, get ball”. Lorenzo looks to do a lot of that in his debut season. He’s a 6’3” WR with 90 Speed, so he represents both a redzone and a deep-threat option.
The Anchor: LT Kris Jackson
The offensive line has some beasts on it, but the main man is Kris Jackson (SR) from Chicago Heights, IL. He’s an inner-city kid who is enjoying a slower life in Akron. Coach Luke also recruited him in our Year 1 cycle out of junior college. Kris did not get redshirted though so he enters his senior year now. He’s looking to end his Akron career with a MAC conference championship.
If there’s anything I’m excited about outside of Washington’s debut in Year 3, it’s that we have a solid offensive line.
Meet The Defense
I don’t see any major areas of weakness on this defense, yet I also don’t see any major areas of strength. It’s kind of a high-floor, low-ceiling group. I do think there’s enough talent here to actually do something special though. Once again, you can click the graphic below to take a look at the starters.
There are three seniors that really stand out on this defense, and each could contribute in big ways.
The Speed Freak: RE Jeremy Cook
Coming from Madeira, OH, Jeremy Cook (SR, RS) has all the makings of being a disruptive force on the defensive line. He had 2.5 sacks and 11 TFL last season, but he seems poised for a breakout year. He rates 79 overall with 84 Speed, 81 Block Shedding and 80 Finesse Moves.
You can see Cook make quick work out of our best offensive lineman, Kris Jackson, in the Spring Practice here. He’ll likely face guys much worse than Jackson throughout the year, and I expect big sack numbers from him. Cook wants to eat!
The Heat-Seeking Missile: ROLB Derek Gay
Derek Gay (SR, RS) is from the Chicago suburb of Streamwood, IL and he helped recruit our other Chicago boy, Kris Jackson. This kid is a lightning bolt at the OLB position. He’s rated 81 overall but has 89 Speed, 92 Acceleration, 87 Agility, 86 Awareness and 84 Play Recognition. There are lots of things to like about his game.
He should be a consistent force on defense this year while causing a lot of issues in the backfield for opposing teams.
The Swiss Army Knife: CB Jamar Fisher
Like many others here, Jamar Fisher (SR, RS) is an Ohio boy and from Mansfield, OH. He’s had an interesting career for us. We had a glut of talent at the safety position prior to this season, so he was moved away from his natural position of FS to be our top CB last year. He responded with 5 interceptions throughout the year, including this game-changer against our rival Kent State:
He’ll be staying at CB due to how well he played there last year. He’s rated 80 overall with 87 Play Recognition and 96 Pursuit ratings, so he will be dangerous in multiple ways this year.
Overall Prediction for Year 3
My biggest concern about this team is the overall lack of HB, WR, and TE talent. We’re going to have to find unlikely heroes in big moments. We’ll also be relying on the legs of K-Dubs a lot so his health is important. Speaking of health, we don’t have a lot of depth anywhere and injuries could derail the season in a heartbeat.
On the positive side, we’ll have a soft-ish schedule and we have our best QB ever. We also have a stellar special teams unit. I think this is a team that will be more consistently competitive than Year 2, but a team that is still in need of luck to get our first bowl bid.
I’ll predict a 6-6 season with no bowl bid this year. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments though.
Join the subreddit! Start chatting, meme-ing, and making predictions amongst yourselves there. It’s at /r/rubbercitydynasty. Thanks again to reader Memorrowiv.
I plan to drop the Year 3 recap on Thursday, August 6th.
If you found this series without knowing about Ricky O’Donnell’s Western Illinois championship chase in NCAA 2k8 then check out his substack. He’ll be streaming the Year 18 Leathernecks regular season on Wednesday, August 5th at 8:30 PM EST on Twitch. Hop on over. I’ll be in there under the username LGloeck.
I am looking into doing Twitch streams myself of key games at some point. If anyone has tips/tricks for Twitch streaming, hit me up either via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments.
Either way, in the comments, feel free to drop in your predictions for Year 3. Tell me about players that you’re most excited to see this season, or let me know if you have general depth chart and lineup ideas for the year.
Invite your friends to join in this crazy journey. Invite the city of Akron. Invite your dentist. Just invite whoever you want! Either way, with the K-Dubs era about to begin, you’ll at least be able to say that you liked the Zips before they were cool.
Until next time, zip it up and zip it out!