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Former Iowa State, Cedar Rapids Washington receiver Landen Akers learning from Hines Ward in XFL
Akers’ San Antonio Brahmas begin season Sunday against St. Louis Battlehawks (2 p.m., ABC)
JUSTIN, Texas — Landen Akers is only months removed from being one of the final cuts of the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.
However, the former Cedar Rapids Washington all-stater and Iowa State receiver isn’t focused on the past. Instead, he’s looking at his present, being on the roster of the XFL’s San Antonio Brahmas, and to hopefully one day returning to the NFL.
“It’s been really fun actually,” Akers said of his time with the Brahmas. “I spent a little time away from sports, so it’s fun to get back to a team and be around the guys, the coaches, learn and get better.”
On Aug. 30, 2022, the 25-year-old Akers was cut by the Rams, who he had played two games for in 2021 mainly on special teams. He earned a ring when Los Angeles won Super Bowl LVI against Cincinnati last February.
He quickly returned to Ames to work out and even helped Iowa State out while awaiting his next opportunity at the pro level.
“Then, got a call to come for a workout here in Dallas,” Akers said. “They liked me, so they ended up drafting me and we’re here now.
“Yeah, (it was like the pre-draft process all over again) a little bit, kind of not knowing where you’re going. Yeah, déjà vu.”
Akers already had earned his master's degree — “I’m proud to be done with school,” he said — and was staying with a friend in Ames.
“Just thought I’d give the young guys some information I’d learned from the NFL and help them out as best as I can,” he said.
Now, he’s playing under the watchful eye of former standout NFL wideout Hines Ward, who likes what he’s seen thus far in the former ISU pass catcher.
“Every day, (I see) just consistency. Just working on getting better, working on his craft,” Ward said. “He’s gaining the confidence and the trust of all his teammates.
“Every time you throw him the ball, it seems like he’s making a play here and there. For me, (it’s great) to get a chance to be hands-on with Landen and show him some of the little tricks in my tool bag that I have to help him in his growth. He’s a great student as well. He has a thirst for knowledge. He wants to get better each day. I can work with anybody who wants to get better and work on their craft.”
Having the opportunity to learn from a former Pro Bowl receiver like Ward is an experience Akers knows will pay huge dividends for him and his new teammates.
“He should be a Hall of Famer and will be eventually,” Akers said. “He’s given me lots of tips and cues to make me even better. Coach Ward wants to get guys back to the NFL.
“That’s his ultimate goal and that’s our goal. We’re here as a family right now, but I think our goal all together is to get back to the NFL.”
Akers will always be grateful for ISU giving him an opportunity to play college football.
“(ISU Coach Matt Campbell]) told me and taught me how to be a worker and compete every day. More so off the field and how to be a man than really on the field,” he said. “(He showed me the importance of) just going to work every and competing to the best of your ability.”
And despite being an undrafted free agent, Akers was one of the Rams’ final cuts in preseason 2021, but landed on their practice squad. He was later elevated to the 53-man active roster, played two games, and earned a Super Bowl ring, which currently sits in a safety deposit box.
Of course, his goal and that of everyone in camp with the Brahmas is to find a way back to the NFL.
“Yeah, that’s the ultimate goal. I’m grateful for it (my time with the Rams) and think it’s just part of my path and journey, I learned a lot and was able to be around a lot of guys and was blessed to get a ring,” Akers said. “It’s part of my journey and hope to be back there one day.”
Stephen Hunt is a freelance writer based in Frisco, Texas.