By Christian Kaposy
Picking a college can be a tough task. As an athlete, choosing a school where you will compete at is difficult. Take a quick look at Kareem Orr’s college offer list and how quickly those offers came, it is hard to even imagine. But, that is a testament to the player he is.
“It was something I had never experienced before,” said Orr. Once he committed to Louisville as a cornerback before his senior year at Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga, many schools took him off their radar. After reopening his options at the end of his senior season, everyone wanted back in. Schools such as Ohio State, Oklahoma, Georgia, Mississippi State, and Clemson joined dozens of schools and extended an offer. After the flood of offers, Orr made his decision and headed west to Arizona State University.
Although he arrived in Tempe with the intention of playing cornerback, that quickly changed. As a freshman at Arizona State, an injury to safety Armand Perry forced Orr to adapt to a new position midseason. This change put Orr center of attention in the Pac-12 and college football. That season, he recorded six interceptions, setting the Arizona State freshman record, and led the Pac-12 in interceptions. That December, Orr was included in USA TODAY’s Freshman All-American team. Players such as Josh Rosen and Saquon Barkley were also named Freshman All-Americans that season.
After his sophomore year at Arizona State, Orr looked to return closer to home. With his daughter soon to be born, he wanted to be closer to his family. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga had offered the local prep star two years earlier, and it had become a perfect time for Orr to take them up on that offer. “I thought it was a good decision. My daughter was born at that time, so I was closer to home and had my family there. It was a rocky road to transition, but I got it together in my senior year.”
As he returned home to Chattanooga, so did his play. After recording a single interception as a junior, Orr rebounded during his senior year with four picks and led the Mocs with ten passes defended. Orr excelled in man coverage, only allowing three completions over ten yards and did not allow a single touchdown reception in 2018. After a stellar senior season, Orr was named First Team All-Southern Conference by media and coaches.
While it may be difficult to find a spot in this Titans secondary, which is filled with talented veterans, Orr has competed amongst some of the toughest competition possible. He played and excelled at the highest level early in his college career. He competed with some very talented receivers, facing JuJu Smith-Schuster in a game versus Southern California and N’Keal Harry, who he faced in practice at Arizona State. Playing in the Pac-12, he has also seen his fair share of NFL quarterbacks, playing Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, and Jared Goff during his freshman and sophomore seasons.
Orr brings a special playmaking ability to a defense. Playing on both sides of the ball in high school, Orr produced jaw-dropping statistics at wide receiver. Scoring 35 touchdowns in his final two years at Notre Dame High School, he has brought that same mindset to the defense. Orr concluded his college career with 12 interceptions. “Playing receiver all my life, when I find the ball, I go get it. It’s that simple.” His experience playing safety as a freshman is also a valuable tool as he attempts to make this Titans roster. Head Coach Mike Vrabel has said in the past that there is special value in players that are versatile on the football field, just as he was in his playing career.