Kareem Orr impressed by skill level in UTC secondary

UTC defensive back Kareem Orr, a Notre Dame High School graduate who transferred from Arizona State in the offseason, said he has been impressed by the talent of his new teammates.
photo UTC defensive back Kareem Orr (2) rushes the quarterback during the first day of fall practice at Scrappy Moore Field on Monday, July 24, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Orr, a transfer from Arizona State, played locally at Notre Dame before college.

Kareem Orr expected to join "some good talent" when he decided to transfer to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Those expectations have been far exceeded.

Orr - a former Notre Dame High School standout who went on to earn Freshman All-America honors at Arizona State - has been working toward solidifying a spot in the Mocs' deep pool of defensive backs. In two seasons with the Sun Devils, the 5-foot-11, 195-pounder had 91 tackles and seven interceptions.

"When I first heard that was a possibility, it was very exciting," UTC coach Tom Arth said of Orr's transfer. "Kareem had an incredible career at the high school level, then went to Arizona State and played as well as he played, so it was very exciting to hear he was thinking about coming home and coming to Chattanooga.

"From the moment he's been here, he's been a leader, a hard worker - he loves to practice - and I think that stands out. In meetings, he's locked in, engaged, communicating. He comes out here and he's flying around the entire practice with a smile on his face. He's brought great energy and leadership to our team."

Orr is one of 10 new faces in the secondary, and he has had to earn his spot in the rotation. It certainly helps to have the skills he possesses, which were evident from the first day of practice, when he stepped in front of a pass and returned it for a touchdown.

He has been working primarily as a safety opposite three-time All-Southern Conference first-team pick Lucas Webb. With Auburn transfer Markell Boston and redshirt freshmen Rashun Freeman and Jerrell Lawson, the group could form one of the best safety units in the country.

Although he has moved from the Football Bowl Subdivision to the Football Championship Subdivision, Orr is still impressed with the Mocs' collective skill level.

"It's still Division I, so I knew there would be good talent, but I didn't think it'd be anything like this," Orr said. "There's a lot of competition. Everybody's fighting for a position, but competition is healthy and nobody's running away from it."

Part of the reason Orr chose to transfer back to Chattanooga was the birth of his first child, which happened late last week. He initially wanted to transfer after his freshman year but chose to stay in Tempe for an extra season.

Now that he's back in town, Orr is excited about the prospects of this team and this program.

"I never thought it would happen, but it feels good to be home and close to family," he said. "I like what's going on here. We can go as far as we want. We have a lot of talent on defense, a lot of talent on offense, and when we put it all together, there's no telling what we can do.

"I really like what I'm seeing right now. I can't complain."

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