A chance to come home and take over Walker Valley High School's football program was an opportunity Drew Akins could not pass up.
After winning six straight Offensive Coordinator of the Year awards to go with successful region championship 3-peats at both Ooltewah and Red Bank, the 32-year-old Akins is excited for the chance to bring the Mustangs back to life.
“My family lives in Cleveland and we are members of First Baptist Church,” said Akins, who has two children, Brynleigh (5) and Lochlan (1), with his wife Kayla, who works at Arnold Elementary School.
“The excitement comes from having a chance to bring a program at its lowest point and helping them become a winning program," Akins said. "I am excited to see what we can do. I want to put together a great staff and make sure the kids are in the right position to be successful.”
As one of 32 applicants for the job opening, Akins stood out in a nine-hour-long interview process held for the coaching vacancy Friday. The hire is pending school board approval.
“Drew was sharp in the interview,” said WVHS principal Nat Akiona. “He came in with several items he put some thought into showing how to organize a program. His record speaks to longevity. He is a fairly young guy and all of his moves have brought him to where I hope he will be a good move for us. He has good energy and a personality the kids will gravitate toward. He rose to the top among all of our applicants."
Having learned under great minds, versatility as an offensive coordinator has helped Akins grow into a highly-touted coaching prospect deemed ready for his first head coaching position.
Under his guidance the past three seasons, the Lions have averaged 32.2 points per game (39.3 ppg in 2018) to go with a 30-8 overall record and a Class 3A semifinals appearance in 2017. Red Bank was 3-8 the season before Akins arrived well-groomed from Ooltewah.
“The offense we run can go anywhere from Auburn to Texas Tech,” Akins said. “We can be a run power team or sling it 40 times around the field. I have been blessed with some really good teams and players in the past.
"I know Walker Valley has had some great players in recent history, who have done great things. When there is a yard to gain, we will stick to what we know and recognize what we are good at.”
From 2013-15 in his time as an OC with the Owls, they went 30-7 overall, which gives Akins an average of 10 wins per season over the past six years.
The former Boyd-Buchanan state champion quarterback, who played under his father, Robert, recently finished up his 10th year as a prep football coach.
He hopes to be able to bring some masterminds along with him, while also talking with current WV coaches.
“I have some dream people who I keep on a wish list,” Akins said. “I want to also talk to guys on staff who are respected. I want to meet with them.
“It’s important we have the best eight or nine coaches who can move this program forward. Guys who strive to be the best every day and want bigger and better jobs. We want to take a program that was 0-10 and help them do great things.”
Akins hopes to get three to four new coaches in with him as soon as possible.
While the Mustangs have only one win the past two seasons despite being home to an All-State quarterback Kolten Gibson and wide receiver Zeke Westfield, the goal is to revive a program capable of carrying success.
Ironically WV's lone win the past two seasons came over a Akins' coached Red Bank squad in '17.
“We want to go out there and work harder than everyone else,” Akins said. “We want teams to know we were there that night. Play as hard as we can for 48 minutes and see what the scoreboard says after."
Taking what he has learned under his father, Mac Bryan, Shannon Williams and Chris Brown, amongst others, the new leader of WV is ready to begin.
“I am excited to be back where home is for me,” Akins said. “This is where my family and I are grounded. I want to thank all those who have helped me get to the point I am at now in my career. I am very blessed.”
-Akins played in three straight TSSAA Class 1A state championships from 2002-04 with Boyd-Buchanan
-Went 38-6 in his last three seasons as quarterback of the Bucs
-Quarterback for Carson-Newman for three years
2008: Coached at Carson-Newman for one season
2009: Wide receiver coach at Ooltewah
2010-15: Quarterback coach at Ooltewah
2013-15: Offensive coordinator at Ooltewah
2016-18: Offensive coordinator at Red Bank
*Made the TSSAA playoffs nine of 10 years as a high school coach