Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013 | 2 a.m.
And, according to those spreading the word, this massive looking defender immediately passes the eye test. Yes, Otukolo is big at 6 feet, 240 pounds.
Soon, legend of this potentially great middle linebacker started growing — he’s physical, quick and has all the football instincts needed to be great. One quick search on YouTube confirms the proclamations: Otukolo makes every play look easy and is downright physical.
Come Friday night, when Gorman opens its season by hosting Mountain Pointe of Arizona in the Sollenberger Classic, the legend of that new linebacker could be confirmed. Otukolo will be front-and-center leading nationally ranked Gorman’s defense.
“I can’t wait to get out there and do my thing,” he said. “The field is my sanctuary. I like to be on the field and do what I’m told to the best of my ability.”
He’s one of 29 players from 13 different schools on the Sun’s preseason all-city team. Players come from all parts of Southern Nevada — Moapa Valley High in Overton, Boulder City High, Legacy High in North Las Vegas, four schools in Henderson and Valley High in the middle of Las Vegas.
It’s a collection of the most talented and athletic players in the area. Some have already committed to Division I programs; others have major recruiting interest.
Then, there’s the Otukolo — he’s a still bit of a mystery. Here’s how he describes himself:
“I like to be physical. I like to fly around and challenge myself to not take plays off,” he said. “I’m going to be a leader out there. I’ll do whatever it takes to win. I can’t until everyone sees our defense and sees our team.”
Otukolo played last season at Hawaii power St. Louis High in Honolulu and was regarded as one of the state’s top linebackers despite being just a sophomore. After the season ended, his family made the decision to move to Las Vegas, where Otukolo’s football talents could blossom at nationally respected Gorman.
While it was tough leaving his lifelong home, everything immediately clicked once he joined the Gorman program. For as heralded as he was when he arrived, he’s already a more complete player.
His body almost immediately transformed in the program’s weight training and conditioning program — he’s more lean and muscles are defined, and he added 20 pounds of mostly muscle. He also has a better understanding of the game and his position.
“It is crazy how Gorman teaches the little things. I have learned more in the past months than I did in my whole life,” he said.
Five of Otukolo’s Gorman teammates are part of the all-city team, which was selected by the Sun’s Ray Brewer. Here’s a look at the rest of the team:
Jarvis Polu / OL / Senior, Liberty
About Jarvis: The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Polu, who is verbally committed to Army, is listed by Rivals.com as a three-star prospect and Nevada’s No. 7 overall recruit. He doubles on the defensive line, using his speed to make an impact on both sides of the ball. He’s been a key contributor the past two seasons in Liberty’s Sunrise championship team.
Reno Tu’ufuli / DL / Senior, Liberty
About Reno: An absolute force on the defensive line, Tu’ufuli was equally successful in pass and run defense for Sunrise Region champion Liberty. He finished 2012 with 37 tackles, five sacks and an interception. He’s also a leader on the Liberty offensive line.
Nela Otukolo / LB / Junior, Bishop Gorman
About Nela: A transfer from Hawaii power St. Louis High, the 6-foot, 240-pound Otukolo is already considered one of the best defenders in the Las Vegas area. Last year, when Gorman beat St. Louis, Otukolo was all over the field in registering double-digit tackles. He’ll be a leader on a Gorman defense already loaded with multiple Division I recruits.