For the third time in five seasons, the Pitt football program has produced a first round NFL Draft choice. The latest Panther product to be selected in the first round is offensive tackle Jeff Otah, who was drafted today by the Carolina Panthers.
Otah is the 23rd Pitt player drafted in the first round since 1960. Since 2004, the Panthers have had three first round picks, including wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald in 2004 (Arizona Cardinals) and cornerback Darrelle Revis (New York Jets).
Fitzgerald is a perennial Pro Bowler, while Revis is considered one of the league's up-and-coming stars. Draft analysts are predicting big things as well for Otah, a native of New Castle, Del., who graduated from William Penn High and Valley Forge Military Academy before enrolling at Pitt in 2006.
For a person who did not play football until his senior year of high school, Otah has enjoyed a rapidly rising career. Arriving in Pittsburgh less than two years ago, he went on to start every single game at left tackle for the Panthers (24 consecutive starts) and was named the team's offensive captain as a senior.
His 2007 postseason honors included being named first team All-Big East by both the media and league coaches. He additionally was a first-team Pro Football Weekly All-American and was selected to play in the prestigious Senior Bowl.
Otah was Carolina's second pick in the first round as they traded up with Philadelphia for 2008 second and fourth-round draft choices and a 2009 first-round draft choice. The Panthers also had the No. 13 pick and selected Jonathan Stewart, a running back out of Oregon.