Fomer USU linebacker Actkinson trades in cleats for wakeboard

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By JACE MILLER

Everyone has heard about the “stereotypical football player.” They’re just big, dumb, tough guys who can’t do anything but play football. They take easy majors so they can ride through college on the back of a football program, getting out of class, assignments, and tests. They can’t do much beside hit people on the football field, right? Wrong.

Meet Jacob Actkinson, who during his four-year Aggie football career was anything but a stereotypical football player.

Actkinson, who was born and raised in Grapevine, Texas, played for Utah State in between 2006-2009. A high school running back, Actkinson hadn’t even heard of Utah State and originally planned to run track in college. After a great senior season, he was recruited by Utah State and came to Logan on a football scholarship.  He started out as a running back his freshman year, redshirted, then switched to fullback the following year. After a season in which he played in every game and had a total of 253 yards and two touchdowns, he injured his shoulder and didn’t play during the 2008 season. He was switched to linebacker during spring drills in 2009.

Switching to linebacker wasn’t an ideal switch for Actkinson, but he said he was willing to make it because of his commitment to the team.

“I probably wouldn’t redo that again,” he said. “I’d never played defense, never played linebacker. It was fun and all but looking back I would’ve rather played running back or fullback.”

Despite the switch, he still loved playing the game, loved traveling, and loved being around the team. He played sparingly as a backup at linebacker in 2009, but left the team during the offseason last year. While he had another year of eligibility left for the Aggies, Actkinson, ever an over-achiever, was on to bigger and better things.

Not that he doesn’t still love his Aggies, however. The Texas native is still a die-hard Aggie who attends games regularly. He was in Logan for Utah State’s win over Idaho State and also for the blowout win over BYU.

“I still have a lot of friends on the team and don’t like to be too far out of the loop,” he said. “I definitely follow the games every week, like when they played Oklahoma I followed them on my phone the entire game.”

Actkinson, who graduated from USU with a dual business entrepreneurship and economics degree, is still very involved in sports, and is putting his Utah State education to use. He is working for Boardco.com – one of the largest wakeboard retailers in the country – as a manager. An avid wakeboarder since middle school, Actkinson was hired by Boardco after an internship hosted by the company during the summer. He said he stumbled across the internship on Wakeworld.com, and as an outdoor sports enthusiast, he, naturally, was very interested.

Actkinson outperformed the other candidates and nabbed the internship. This was not the end of the “game,” however. He had secured the internship, but still didn’t have a job. It was the fourth quarter, and there was no time to sit down and relax. That’s when his football mentality kicked in. A former weight room warrior at USU, Actkinson worked hard and impressed Boardco so much that, at the end of the summer, he didn’t just have internship to add to his resume, he had a full-time job.

Actkinson, who is the second-most senior person at Boardco, loves the job he has and helps people from the store in Springville, Utah as well as those who buy products online. He talks to customers over the phone, as well as over email, and makes sure they are satisfied with their purchases. He participates in company decisions and personally has used many of the products Boardco sells – making him an integral part of the company from sales to leadership. He said he plans to one day own his own company in the action sports market.

“I want to find a niche and get something on the market,” he said.

The values of the football field and the Utah State classroom played a very positive role in helping Actkinson get to where he is today.

“Persistence and always giving your best effort,” he said. “That’s the only way you’ll ever succeed in life. That’s something that was in play on the football field.”

Actkinson also learned to work hard on everything he does and to value his education. He credits his former coach, Gary Andersen, with stressing the academic component of being a college football player at Utah State. Having a degree to fall back on if football doesn’t work out is something Andersen preaches, and something Actkinson has proven in the business world.

“Coach Andersen has definitely ingrained academics as being a major focus, he wants all players to put academics first and get their degree,” Actkinson said. “I believe that hard work will always pay off in the long run, and I’ve seen it happen to a lot of people. I believe that if you have a dream, if you work hard enough, eventually it will come true.”

As for that education, it’s second to none in Atkinson’s mind. Getting his dual major in business entrepreneurship and economics  was no cake-walk, and while he was not on the field he found himself workeing hard in the classroom. The challenging nature of earning his degree is something the young entrepreneur takes pride in.

“I took a lot away from Dan Holland’s management and entrepreneur classes,” Atkinson said. “I enjoyed those classes by far the most because I see those as the most helpful in the (business) field and that have the most to do with people.”

Actkinson has been a hard worker on the field, in school, and in the other aspects of his life. He definitely doesn’t believe the stereotype about football players.

“There’s a lot more to a football player than just sports. Student athletes aren’t just hard workers on the football field, they bust their butts in the classroom and they’re not just meatheads,” he said.