On UCF's depth chart, Otis Anderson is listed at the "Utility" position, as he will be splitting time as a running back and as a wide receiver.
In 2017, Anderson appeared in 12 games with one start, also splitting time between running back and receiver position. He averaged 7.2 yards per carry, rushing for 494 yards and 4 touchdowns while also catching 30 passes for 351 yards and 3 touchdowns.
What a burst up the middle for Otis Anderson.@UCF_Football extends the lead. pic.twitter.com/ZVI1IgggXU— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) October 21, 2017
Now entering his sophomore season, Anderson looks to perform even better, as he has spent even more time splitting between being a running back and wideout.
Otis Anderson working out with the wide receivers early in practice. #UCF #Orlando pic.twitter.com/CYlHFBX1va— Christian Bruey (@CBrueyWFTV) August 1, 2018
I spoke to him at the weekly press conference, and he explains how he is a much more complete player going into the season and hopes to master his unique role. He shares what it's like playing two different positions and what influenced him growing up in becoming the football player that he is today.
Eric Lopez (ELO): Who were some of the players that you looked up to as you started playing football?
Otis Anderson: "I think there are a lot of players that I molded myself after. One of the first people that I ever paid attention to was LaDainian Tomlinson. That's something that I always wanted to be like. He was a great player. The older I got the more I realized my stature and my type of skill set, so Percy Harvin was a big look-up for me. Then as I got older in high school, Tavon Austin, De'Anthony Thomas and players like that started coming around, so learning the different hybrid positions from those players help me play the way I am now."
E-Lo: Talk about being a "Utility" Player. You get to be in two meetings, the running back meetings and the wide receiver meetings. What is that like to be in multiple meetings and play multiple positions.
Anderson: "It's great, It's fun. Sometimes it's a headache because I don't know which one I am going to. So when the coaches tell me which one I am going to, then it's learning from there. I really love learning the different looks and the different game of football and just the different way I can become better and work on my technique. I think that helps my teammates a lot. Me having to know different positions, I am pretty much a quarterback that doesn't play quarterback. If there's any way I can help my teammates on the field with the plays, I can always help out, and I think that's what makes me a better teammate."
E-Lo: Is your mindset different at all depending on which position you are in at that particular play or is it the same?
Anderson: "It's the same. I really don't think on the field, I just react. Knowing the plays so well, I am able to see it and line up and be able to play full speed. There are different situations where I have to understand what I am playing and the depth and stuff like that. But pretty much it's all going to be the same."
E-Lo: It seems like yesterday you walked on campus for the first time at UCF. What has that been like? Has it been everything you thought it would be, like when you first decided that you wanted to come to UCF?
Anderson: "Yeah, there's nothing I would have changed about last year. Everything that happened for me last year, happened for the team last year, is the reason why I picked this school. It's giving me goosebumps and chills now even thinking about my role and how the team progressed from when Frost first got here to when he departed. It's been a great learning experience for me just learning new plays and new formations from a different coaching staff."
E-Lo: I remember last year, when you talked about how you are your own biggest critic of your performance. What did you work on in the offseason?
Anderson: "Pass protection. That was something huge for me. Obviously I am used to having the ball in my hands, but for me, it's about what I can do without the ball in my hands and giving McKenzie [Milton] more time, working on my technique, and learning different ways of blocking bigger defenders. Going against Pat [Jasinski] every day really made me a better pass blocker, and I now feel that I am ready to go against anyone."
E-Lo: Do you follow the UCF guys playing in the NFL, like who you played with last year or even the guys that have played here before?
Anderson: "Oh yeah. I watched Brandon Marshall, I saw the great catch he had (Friday Night). I've been watching Tre'Quan so much. He pretty much was like having big brother when I first came in. He took me around to get haircuts even when I didn't have my car yet. Watching Mike Hughes and knowing these people and talking to them on a daily basis gives me big dreams and I feel I can fulfill them."
E-Lo: What kind of bond do all of the running backs have as a group?
Anderson: "It translates to off the field, honestly. Off the field, there is so much that we do with each other. We play the game, we go out, we watch movies, we might go to another college football game or high school football game. We might go grab something to eat so we're always together, and I think that's what has made us so close."