During June minicamp, the Los Angeles Rams were operating with just five running backs. Four have been in the league for no more than three seasons while another was a seventh round pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Now, the Rams have added to their running back room by signing Otis Anderson Jr. from the University of Central Florida, first reported by Charean Williams of NBC Sports on Wednesday. Anderson also took to Twitter to announce his signing to the Rams.
Who is Otis Anderson Jr.?
For starters, the UCF Knight is not related to the former New York Giants running back Ottis Anderson, who won Super Bowl Most Valuable Player honors after his team edged the Buffalo Bills 20-19 in the 1991 big game in Tampa Bay.
But, this Otis Anderson brought versatility to UCF and gave teams in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) and others fits with his abilities to run, catch and return.
He ranks second all-time in school history with averaging 6.1 yards a carry in his four-year career at the Orlando institution. Additionally, he’s ninth on the school’s list with 2,182 career rushing yards. Lastly, he’s eighth at UCF in two more categories: All-purpose yards with 3,708 and 27 touchdowns.
During the truncated 2020 season due to coronavirus, Anderson managed to squeeze in nine games. He finished with 687 yards on 125 carries with four touchdowns. He also added 102 yards through receiving and punt returns. His best outing was against Houston, tallying 170 rushing yards on 16 carries and one touchdown in the 44-21 romp on Halloween.
His junior season of 2019 was arguably his best statistical output. Anderson collectively accumulated 1,391 total yards through rushing, receiving and returns. His breakout night came on October 26, when he gashed the Temple Owls with 205 rushing yards on 17 carries and one score.
Anderson managed to post three 100-yard running games at UCF. His first century mark game came in one of the more exciting games in UCF history: The December 2, 2017 AAC title game against Memphis when he rumbled for 113 yards on 15 carries and scored the game’s final TD in the 62-55 overtime thriller, sending the Knights to a New Year’s Six Bowl game against Auburn in the Peach Bowl.
Unfortunately for Anderson, his 5-foot-8, 179-pound stature proved to be his dilemma in getting drafted this past May. Lance Zierlein of nfl.com wrote:
“Anderson is a good football player, offering versatility, athleticism and playmaking characteristics, but his size is a big obstacle. He’s not big enough to be counted on as a pure backup running back, which means he will need to make it as a gadget player with wide receiver potential who can return punts.”
Another obstacle: Anderson’s 40-yard dash time at UCF’s Pro Day. He was timed at 4.63 in the speed drill, which was the second slowest time among UCF Knight participants on that April 1 day.
Before starring at UCF, Anderson was an APB (All-Purpose Back) who emerged as a three-star prospect at University Christian High in Jacksonville. According to 247Sports, Anderson was offered scholarships from 25 different universities including Vanderbilt of the Southeastern Conference (SEC), Virginia of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and AAC rival Cincinnati before choosing UCF.
Anderson Back with Another UCF Star
The free agent signing not only adds depth to the Rams’ backfield, but Anderson will be teammates again with another UCF standout.
Jacob Harris provided the red zone and aerial presence for the Knight offense while Anderson helped lay the ground work foundation. The wide receiver/tight end hybrid Harris was selected in the fourth round at No. 141 overall. Anderson got the chance to watch Harris work his way from walk-on, to scout team to scholarship player and played from 2017-2020 like Anderson. Harris himself took to Twitter to announce his reunion with Anderson.