While still a teenager, he joined the Ottawa Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League as a wide receiver. In 1969, Adkins was voted to the CFL All-Star team after setting a regular season record for the highest average gain per pass reception at 25.0 yards, a record that stood for twenty-eight years (broken by Milt Stegall). He was part of both Ottawa's Grey Cup winning teams in 1968 and 1969, catching an important TD pass in the 1968 game when the Rough Riders defeated the Calgary Stampeders 24-21.
Adkins was drafted in the second round of the 1970 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He joined the Cowboys for the 1970 season but with star wide receivers such as Lance Alworth and Bob Hayes, the Cowboys used Adkins primarily as a punt and kick returner during his two seasons with the team. He was part of the Cowboys' Super Bowl VI championship team in 1971 and the following year he went to the New Orleans Saints where he led the team in kickoff returns with 1,020 yards and a 23.7 average carry. Injuries hampered his career and he played his final NFL season in 1973 with the New York Jets. In 1975 he joined the Chicago Winds of the World Football League catching 12 passes for 130 and one touchdown. The Winds folded during the 1975 WFL season finishing 1-4. Adkins was selected by the San Antonio Wings in the Chicago Winds dispersal draft, but he did not play for the Wings.