Jim Wyatt, SENIOR WRITER/EDITOR
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Akrum Wadley was a popular guy at the end of the NFL Draft.
Roughly a half-dozen teams were interested in signing the Iowa running back as an undrafted free agent, but at that point it was up to Wadley where he’d end up.
Wadley opted to sign with the Titans. He’s now on a mission to prove he belongs in the NFL, while making other teams regret not picking him in the draft.
“I want to show that I am very capable,” Wadley said. “I am very capable of playing at this level, there’s not a doubt in my mind. And as long as I keep practicing and keep making improvements, I will play.”
Wadley ran for 1,109 yards and 10 touchdowns in his final season at Iowa, where he was also a valuable target out of the backfield catching the football. He was a playmaker in the return game as well.
Wadley is one of four running backs in Iowa football history to rush for over 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons, having rushed for 1,081 yards in 2016. He finished his collegiate career with 2,872 yards and 35 total touchdowns.
Now he’s with the Titans, competing in a backfield with Derrick Henry, Dion Lewis and David Fluellen. Wadley and former Colorado State back Dalyn Dawkins signed with the Titans as undrafted free agents.
“We have some really good backs,” Wadley said. “You have Derrick Henry, Dion, Fluellen. Me and Dawk are learning from those guys, and they’ve set a really good example so far.
”I felt like I had a chance to compete here.”
So far, through OTAs and a minicamp during the team’s offseason work, Wadley thinks he’s held his own.
“I feel like I’ve made huge improvements, big strides,” he said. “I feel like I got off to a good start. I still have some things to learn, but every day I feel I am improving on the previous day.”
Titans running backs coach Tony Dews said the 5-foot-10, 194-pound Wadley has made the most of his reps.
“He works hard, and when he gets in there he does the best job he can,” Dews said. “If you do that, you have an opportunity to put something on film and be noticed. If you get one rep, make it the best rep you can. If you get 30 reps, make them 30 great reps.”
Wadley knows he has his work cut out for him when training camp begins on July 26.
The Titans have usually kept three or four running backs on the 53-man roster over the years, but that number oftentimes included a fullback in years past. In 2017, the Titans carried three running backs on the roster most of the season.
Wadley wants to stick.
When the pads come on in training camp, he plans on making an impression.
“That’s when it is time,” he said. “But I feel like every day is my time. I know I belong.
“I am not getting a lot of reps, but every rep I am trying to stand out. Coach always talks about standing out, and it is only a matter of time.”