Unfortunate news greeted fans this morning with the news of the death of former UCF Knights football star Otis Anderson Jr. He was just 23 years old.
In a story reported by Ashley Harding of News 4 WJXT in Jacksonville, both Otis and his mother Denise were shot during a domestic dispute last night. Otis died at the hospital. Denise, a JSO corrections officer, is expected to recover.
Otis’ father, Otis Anderson Sr, was arrested this morning and charged with first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder. He will be held without bond and his next court appearance is scheduled for December 22nd.
Otis was beloved by both players and fans. Nicknamed “Juice”, he was a versatile offensive player for Scott Frost and later Josh Heupel.
Under head coach Scott Frost, Otis had an immediate impact on the team during his freshman year as part of the rotation at running back with an affinity for being effective for catching passes. He played in 12 games that year, carrying the ball 69 times for 494 yards and four touchdowns while making 30 receptions for 351 yards and three more touchdowns.
The following year in Josh Heupel’s first season at UCF, Anderson didn’t get as many opportunities to shine, but found a new wrinkle to his game, as a punt returner. He took a step back in his offensive utilization rushing 51 times for 275 yards with four touchdowns while making 16 catches for 230 yards and three touchdowns. He also fielded 15 punts for 178 yards.
In both 2017 and 2018, the Knights would win the American Athletic Conference championship and go to a New Years Six bowl game.
His junior year in 2019 was Otis’ best year in every facet of his game. His 277 punt return yards and 13.2 average per return were tops in the AAC this season.
His senior season was shortened due to the 2020 season being turned on its head, but Otis still played an active role in the backfield. With the loss of Adrian Killins to graduation, and in only nine games, he rushed a career-high 125 times for 687 yards and four touchdowns. He wasn’t utilized as a receiver like he had been in previous years, making only 14 receptions for 79 yards. He also fielded only three punts for 23 yards.
Otis had three 100 yard rushing games, including a career-high 205 yards against Temple in 2019. His 6.1 yards per carry is good for sixth in AAC history.
After graduating, Otis went to the NFL where he was signed as an undrafted free agent with the Los Angeles Rams. He was released from the practice squad in September.
I had the personal pleasure of interviewing Otis while at the Peach Bowl. His maturity and poise were well beyond his age and he had a softness to his personality that made you want to talk more with him.
“Once a Knight, always a Knight.”
He will be missed.