It only made sense that someone named “Freedom” committed on Independence Day.
Nebraska scored its first tight end of the 2014 class in Freedom Akinmoladun (Grandview, Mo./Grandview) on Thursday, a day when the Cornhuskers landed two big commitments, the other being four-star receiver Monte Harrison (Lee’s Summit, Mo./Lee’s Summit West).
Akinmoladun, now a shade under 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, chose Nebraska over offers from Illinois, Northern Illinois, Kansas and Kansas State. Offensive line coach Barney Cotton recruited Akinmoladun to Nebraska.
Now, it’s Akinmoladun’s mission to turn a program with a high reputation for producing rushing yards into one that has a respectable, dangerous passing game.
“I know Nebraska’s a big run team,” he said, “but hopefully, I can become a big target to where they can go to their passing game. I want to do that and just produce.”
Akinmoladun is ready to show that he can be a versatile tight end in the Big Ten. He will go to Nebraska as a tight end, but he has shown that he can be effective as a defensive end. He caught 14 passes for 331 yards and a touchdown as a junior, averaging better than 22 yards per catch. As a defender, he accounted for 85 tackles and four sacks.
If his future as a tight end involves more blocking than receiving, Akinmoladun said he’s ready for the challenge. He said he learned a lot from a blocking standpoint by playing left tackle early in his football career -- ironically as a 180-pound sophomore.
Either way, Akinmoladun is looking forward to putting on the Nebraska uniform. He said the coaching staff and players, particularly the incoming freshmen, played a big role in his decision. Seeing former Cornhuskers tight ends Kyler Reed (Jacksonville) and Ben Cotton (San Diego) sign NFL free-agent deals also aided in his decision.
“I talked to a lot of recruits, and they told me a lot of stuff they liked about the campus,” Akinmoladun said. “I had to make sure I talked with some of the incoming freshmen. Basically, they said they felt like they never left home, just met new family members.
“I was thinking about how they just had two tight ends come out of Nebraska. You don’t see two tight ends come out one university and go to the NFL. Not a lot of colleges even produce tight ends who are in the NFL.”
That will be his goal upon arrival -- to continue the trend of Nebraska tight ends in the league. Another goal, obviously, will be to earn a degree. In addition to being a solid athlete, Akinmoladun has a 3.6 grade-point average.