Orr leav­ing Ari­zona State to play for Mocs

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - SPORTS - BY GENE HEN­LEY STAFF WRITER

Ka­reem Orr made a de­ci­sion Tues­day that he felt was best for him and his fam­ily — both present and fu­ture.

It ben­e­fits the Univer­sity of Ten­nessee at Chat­tanooga foot­ball pro­gram as well.

The former Notre Dame High School stand­out, who played the past two sea­sons at Ari­zona State, an­nounced Tues­day his in­ten­tion to trans­fer to his home­town univer­sity. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound de­fen­sive back will be el­i­gi­ble for the Mocs im­me­di­ately and will have two sea­sons re­main­ing.

“GOD is truly good and I thank him for ev­ery­thing he has done for me and this op­por­tu­nity,” Orr posted. “Thank you once again ASU for ev­ery­thing it has truly been a bless­ing as well!!”

Orr told the Times Free Press on Tues­day that he and his girl­friend are ex­pect­ing a daugh­ter soon.

“She’s due in Au­gust, so it was im­por­tant for me to be back home for her,” Orr said. “I like the en­vi­ron­ment they’ve got go­ing at UTC, and I’m re­ally ex­cited about the op­por­tu­nity to get to be a part of that. I’m look­ing for­ward to help­ing get the city turned up again, and I think we’ll do big things.”

His high school coach, Charles Fant, said Orr had thought about mov­ing closer to home af­ter last sea­son but “de­cided to give it an­other year.” The fa­ther­hood as­pect made it a no-brainer for the tal­ented de­fen­sive back.

“He doesn’t think he made a mis­take by go­ing out there, but at the same time he felt like he needed to come back home, where he has that con­stant sup­port group close by,” Fant said. “He can just go visit fam­ily when he needs them, and I think he just wanted to be closer to home be­cause be­ing that far away has weighed on him.”

Orr, a three-star prospect com­ing out of high school ac­cord­ing to 247Sports, ini­tially chose the Sun Devils over fi­nal­ists Louisville and Ok­la­homa. He was a Fresh­man All-Amer­i­can at the Foot­ball Bowl Sub­di­vi­sion level in 2015, when he had 65 tack­les and six in­ter­cep­tions, in­clud­ing one against ri­val Ari­zona that he re­turned for a touch­down.

He had 26 tack­les and an in­ter­cep­tion in 2016.

He be­comes the fifth player to an­nounce his trans­fer to the UTC pro­gram, join­ing run­ning back Dar­rell Bridges (Pres­by­te­rian), full­back Chris Jones (Arkansas), de­fen­sive back Cameron Turner (Ne­vada) and ath­lete Gage Up­shaw (Air Force), who played both tight end and line­backer in high school at Bay­lor.

Orr’s ad­di­tion will only help to strengthen the com­pe­ti­tion for the start­ing cor­ner­back slots. Se­nior Trevor Wright and ju­nior C.J. Fritz re­turn as the starters but al­most as­suredly will be pushed by Orr and Turner.

UTC added five de­fen­sive backs in the 2017 sign­ing class.

Cook of­fi­cially added to staff

UTC head coach Tom Arth an­nounced Tues­day that Chris Cook has ac­cepted a po­si­tion coach­ing tight ends and tack­les on the Mocs’ staff.

Cook played at UTC and was an All-Amer­ica cen­ter in 2002. He re­turns to his alma mater af­ter two sea­sons as the of­fen­sive qual­ity con­trol co­or­di­na­tor at East Carolina.

“We are thrilled to wel­come Chris back to UTC and to wel­come his wife Man­disa and their two chil­dren, Mayor and Paige, to our fam­ily in Chat­tanooga,” Arth said in a re­lease. “Chris has shared with our staff the ways in which UTC has shaped his life, and we know how spe­cial this op­por­tu­nity is for him to re­turn to his alma mater.

“From the mo­ment we met Chris we knew there was some­thing re­ally spe­cial about him. He is a very pas­sion­ate and in­tel­li­gent foot­ball coach with a con­ta­gious per­son­al­ity, and as a former stu­dent-ath­lete and All-Amer­i­can player at UTC Chris will be able to im­pact our pro­gram and our play­ers in so many mean­ing­ful ways.”

Cook grad­u­ated from UTC in 2009 with a de­gree in com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Be­fore com­plet­ing his de­gree, he pur­sued a pro­fes­sional foot­ball ca­reer with work­outs with the Chicago Bears, Philadel­phia Ea­gles, Buf­falo Bills and In­di­anapo­lis Colts.

Con­tact Gene Hen­ley at ghen­ley@times­freep­ress. com. Fol­low him on Twit­ter @gene­hen­leytfp.

STAFF FILE PHOTO

Af­ter spend­ing two sea­sons with Ari­zona State, former Notre Dame High School stand­out Ka­reem Orr an­nounced his in­ten­tion to trans­fer to the Univer­sity of Ten­nessee at Chat­tanooga.

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