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    Spring Football: Otah sits as 9 work out for Pro Day

    There were approximately 40 scouts and coaches representing 15 National Football League teams in attendance at Pitt's Pro Day workout at its South Side training facility, all gathering final pre-draft times and information on nine Panthers players.
    The number would have been larger had offensive tackle Jeff Otah participated in the workout.
    Otah, projected to be a first-round pick in next month's NFL draft, decided to skip yesterday's workout because he still is bothered by a high left ankle sprain that plagued him throughout the college season and at February's NFL Combine. He has rescheduled his workout for April 9, less than three weeks before the NFL draft.
    Instead, Otah spent most of the morning watching nine of his Pitt teammates, including offensive lineman Mike McGlynn, tight end Darrell Strong and cornerback Kennard Cox, take part in the running, jumping and positions drills that were attended by Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and director of football operations Kevin Colbert.
    "I'm just healing up a little bit," Otah said. "I don't feel 100 percent. I need more time to get better, so I can train more.
    "It was something I sprained before the season, and I played through it, and it never got time to heal. I definitely wasn't 100 percent at the combine, but a lot of coaches tell me the combine doesn't mean much. But I don't feel like I did my best."
    Despite playing football for only five seasons -- two of which were at Pitt after transferring from a junior college -- Otah is a player who is considered to have a big upside because he is still learning technique and the nuances of the position. But his biggest asset is his size (6 feet 6, 322 pounds) and athleticism.
    "They probably want to see more technique things, see how smart I am and how fast I can pick up certain drills they throw at me," Otah said of NFL scouts. "But I'm not going to worry about that now. I'm just worried about how I do when I get there. People don't remember where you're drafted at. They remember what you do when you leave."
    Otah, who is 9 pounds lighter than his 2007 playing weight, has been projected as one of the top five tackles in the draft, behind Michigan's Jake Long, Boise State's Ryan Clady, Chris Williams of Vanderbilt and Tony Hills of Texas.
    "He's got a lot of things you like, and it starts with 6-6, 330," Tomlin said after watching the workout. "He's a capable guy."
    Tomlin and Colbert already have had pre-draft interviews with Otah, McGlynn and Strong on the South Side, something they are allowed to do under NFL rules with college players from the same city. Those players do not count against the 30 the Steelers are allowed to bring in and interview before the draft.
    However, despite having a need on the offensive line, the Steelers may not have a shot at Otah with the 23rd overall pick in the draft.
    "I talked to Mike Tomlin, and he's a real good guy," Otah said. "I would love to play for the Steelers and stay close to home."
    I don't know, I think I still like Alberts.
    "It is hard to wait around for something that you know may never happen;but it's even harder to let go when it's everything you want"
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