By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
One Feather Asst. Editor
CHEROKEE, N.C. – Xavier Otter, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and a senior at Cherokee High School (CHS), signed a letter of intent, during a ceremony at the Charles George Memorial Arena on the morning of Wednesday, May 10, to play football at Mars Hill University.
“It’s nerve-racking, but I’m actually really excited,” Otter told the One Feather. “I didn’t think I’d be able to play college football. But, now that I have the opportunity, I’m so grateful. I’m so excited to go.”
When asked about his football journey to date, he said, “About eighth grade I got into it. Then, I suffered a hip injury and missed my season. When I got back out my freshman year, that’s really when my passion for it kind of got started…about my sophomore year. That was a real good group of guys I played with that year. It really lit a fire under me. Every group after that I’ve ever played with just keeps on pushing me and inspiring me. I knew sophomore year, right after that season ended that I wanted to go to the next level.”
“Really, just playing in general. I just love the game.”
Prior to the signing, Otter told the crowd gathered for the event, “Thank you to everybody that’s sitting here. You all played a part – the whole team, everybody standing back there, my family, and my coaches, especially. Thank you for giving me the opportunity, especially for this. I couldn’t have gotten there without you all.”
David Napier, CHS head football coach who announced his retirement recently, commented, “This is what a high school football player is all about right here. He represents everything that us coaches believe in – his character, work ethic. He’s what a Brave should be. He definitely represents Cherokee Braves. We’ve had an unbelievable blast coaching him.”
“He’s been an absolute pleasure to coach. I’ve never seen him mope. In three years, I’ve never seen him mope.”
Jama Anders, CHS strength and conditioning coach, said, “It’s almost aggravating how good a kid he is. He’s always happy and smiling. When he comes in a room, he just makes you feel good.”
“Good job for Xavier for putting that out there for everybody else. He shows that you can still have a good time, be a good kid, smile all the time, and still work really, really hard.”
Ashley Murphy, Otter’s mother, noted, “It’s emotional and indescribable, I think. I’m so beyond proud of him. I can’t describe how much work he’s put in within the last four years. It’s insane. He’s worked from the time he got up in the morning until he fell over at night. I’m really proud of him.”
Craig Barker, CHS assistant principal, said, “You molded yourself into a phenomenal football player. I’m very proud of you, son. It was my pleasure to be able to coach you for a few years. I’m excited for this next phase of your life and the great things you’re going to accomplish.”
“I’m extremely grateful to be allowed the opportunity to work with you every day. He is a true Brave.”
Otter won the 2021-22 CHS Booster Club Spirit of the Braves Award.
The Mars Hill Lions play in the NCAA Division II and are members of the South Atlantic Conference.