Practice Tour: Norkeithus Otis

GASTONIA, N.C. --- Norkeithus Otis is still not prepared to name a final list of schools or leader. However, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound linebacker admits several programs have begun to stand out.

"[North] Carolina sticks out a lot, Florida sticks out, I like Duke too, [and] Georgia Tech sticks out," Otis said. "There's not really one that I'm just mainly focused on.

"All of them have their ups and downs. They all have great programs. I like the environment of all of them."

Otis has made at least one visit to all four aforementioned schools. He will unofficially – and could officially – visit several schools during the season, but lacks any definitive plans.

"Right now, I'm just focused on this year," Otis said. "Sometime during the football season, I think that's when I'll start making cuts. I'm just focused right now on high school."

For his senior football season, Ashbrook first-year head coach Greg Hill has moved Otis to weak-side outside linebacker – or at least that's the hope.

"Right now, we have some situations up front on the defensive line that some kids can't seem to do what is asked of them on a daily basis," Hill said. "… If that continues, we might have to shift [Otis] down [to defensive end].

"Norky is going to have to be a flexible kid, regardless. He's going to have to be flexible at times to put his hand on the ground."

Otis began the preseason playing defensive end, his primary position under the previous coaching staff.

"He has enough football savvy that we can teach D-end to him fairly quickly," Hill said. "Linebacker takes quite a while. Once I saw that he could play in space as a ‘backer, we spent the majority of the summer with him at ‘backer to get him ready at that."

Hill has been impressed by how quickly Otis has grasped the linebacker position in his 4-3 scheme.

"The system I'm bringing in, I think, it is pretty sophisticated for the high school level," Hill said. "… I've been real surprised that [the team] has really picked it up, especially Norky. We're at the point where we're starting to add things, instead of just review."

"I'm getting accustomed to it," Otis said. "Now, I have to sit back and read. [Hill] likes to attack the gaps. Last year, we just got after the ball."

Otis is being recruited as a linebacker. Thus, the move to linebacker will benefit him beyond this coming season.

"[The position change has helped in] being able to take on blocks a little bit better, being able to cover the slot guy, and just being able to read better," Otis said.

Specifically, UNC linebackers coach Art Kaufman, who Otis' uncle speaks to weekly, projects Otis to play SAM (strong-side) linebacker.

Otis will also play some slot receiver this season, primarily in four-wide receiver sets.

"We're trying to two-platoon as much as possible," Hill said. "But we are going to have six-to-eight kids that are going to have to learn both sides." Norkeithus Otis Profile

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