NEXT SEASON'S TOP AREA PROSPECTS
11 juniors to watch:
Kareem Orr (Notre Dame), WR-DB, 6-0, 185
Harrison Moon (Signal Mountain), OL, 6-5, 260
Nick Tiano (Baylor), QB, 6-4, 210
Eder Mora (Dalton), DB, 6-1, 215
Zach Morris (Ringgold), DL, 6-5, 280
Nate Mayes (Dalton), LB, 6-2, 195
Chase Westfall (Dalton), TE, 6-5, 220
Bryan Derben (Ringgold), OL, 6-2, 280
JoJo Tillery (East Ridge), QB-DB-Ath, 6-1, 180
Myles Smith (Red Bank), OL, 6-4, 300
Ian Hayes (Ridgeland), LB, 6-3, 230
COMING THIS WEEK
• Today: A look at next year’s top area high school recruits.
• Thursday: Complete signing day coverage on the Vols, Bulldogs, Mocs and around the SEC and nation. Plus, see where area seniors are headed.
• Friday: Get a behind-thescenes look at the madness of signing day.
• Sunday: Is there a science to recruiting? Plus, catch up with 10 former familiar names in area recruiting.
• Monday: A complete review of the SEC recruiting scene.
For now Kareem Orr's cell phone buzzes with only the occasional call or text from friends. That soon will change.
The ink will barely dry on today's rush of seniors signing with their future football programs before college coaches turn their attention to the next crop of recruits. And Orr, Notre Dame's 6-foot, 185-pound defensive back, is atop what looks to be a deeper than average group of junior prospects in the Chattanooga area.
If online recruiting service rankings are any indication, he's about to notice a considerable uptick in calls and messages from college recruiters.
"He has that 'it' factor that's hard to explain, but he just makes plays that a lot of guys can't," Notre Dame coach Charles Fant said. "I always want the kids who play for me to dream big but also to be realistic and have a backup plan. There is no backup plan for Kareem. He has the opportunity to play at the highest level."
Monday morning, Duke University became the first program to officially offer Orr a scholarship. Fant was either visited or contacted by coaches from Tennessee and Ohio State last week, and he said he routinely hears from Northwestern, Cincinnati and UT-Chattanooga as well. Each of those programs has invited Orr to their summer workout camps, and all have indicated they will offer Orr a scholarship.
"I went with him to Ohio State's camp last year to video his workouts," said Fant, who played receiver at Vanderbilt. "I saw him going one-on-one against the best players at the camp, and I'm talking about top-10 receivers and running backs nationally, and he only allowed two completions against him all day.
"One of Ohio State's defensive coaches kept trying different receivers against Kareem and then calling them out for not being able to get separation or catch a pass against him. Kareem proved that day that he can play at any level."
Orr and Signal Mountain offensive lineman Harrison Moon (6-5, 260) are currently the area's highest-rated junior recruits. Both are beginning the road to signing day 2015 rated as three-star prospects by Rivals.com.
Orr will attend the invitation-only five-star camp in Atlanta later this spring and the summer Nike combine in Atlanta. He also plans to go to defensive back camps at Ohio State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt for a second straight summer.
Orr has been one of the city's top athletes since middle school and had his breakout varsity season as a sophomore when he collected 1,105 all-purpose yards and scored 18 touchdowns -- scoring on a kick return, punt return and interception return as well as rushing and receiving TDs.
He followed that up last season with 1,724 all-purpose yards and 15 TDs and intercepted five passes, taking two of those back for TDs to earn all-state honors.
"After what I was able to do my sophomore year, that's when I felt like I had a future playing at some level," Orr said. "Doing so well at a few camps last summer really helped my confidence going into the season and showed me what I needed to work on.
"It helps knowing that Coach Fant played in college and went through the recruiting process. I know he'll tell me what I need to do and what to expect, so I trust him to put me where I need to be and get me ready for however crazy it's about to get."
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...