Orr embraces challenges of strength, conditioning on path to playing time

The blueprint for Rod Orr’s path to playing time is similar to Robert Scott’s route in 2020. Neither offensive linemen enrolled early. Both are viewed as tackles. The plan was for Scott to have time to develop before seeing playing time, but he jumped into the starting lineup in week 3 against Jacksonville State — the first of seven straight starts for Florida State at right tackle.

Orr arrived at FSU this summer and has often shadowed Scott.

“That’s like my twin,” Orr said. “I got to be beside him all the time. I’m learning everything from him. He’s like another coach to me. I’m always beside him, asking him questions, what to do, what not to do. … He’s real cool.”

The 6-foot-6, 293-pound Orr was a football-basketball standout at Gadsden City (Ala.) High. While busy during both of those sports’ seasons, Orr didn’t have the chance to focus on offseason time in the weight room as the calendar from August through March usually kept him busy — preseason camp went into the fall season and then basketball season.

Orr is also relatively new to the offensive line, playing the position for the first time as a junior in high school. But FSU coach Mike Norvell said in December he noticed a marked difference in Orr’s film from his junior to senior season, “you see the unbelievable steps that have been taken. … I think he’ll be able to come in and have a chance to make an early impact.”

Now that Orr has arrived at FSU the offseason strength and conditioning as well as player-run practices have been his daily routine.

“The conditioning — it’s something serious,” Orr said. “Just getting used to that and doing new workouts. It’s been challenging. It’s pretty good so far.”

FSU’s offensive line leaned on true and redshirt freshmen in 2020 as Robert Scott, Maurice Smith, Darius Washington, Dontae Lucas and Thomas Shrader combined for 27 starts. A year of experience and an offseason in the strength and conditioning program should have that group be better prepared for the year ahead. Coupled with the return of Devontay Love-Taylor and Notre Dame transfer Dillan Gibbons, there is optimism about the offensive line taking another step forward this fall.

Where does Orr fit? Orr likely won’t play that much against Notre Dame but how quickly he learns blocking assignments and competes in camp will show when he is ready to be in the mix. FSU’s coaching staff often indicated it is seeking eight dependable linemen, and it’s plausible Orr could be part of that group.

When asked what Orr does well and what he needs to work on, he smiled and ran through the list. 

“I need to work on everything,” Orr said. “It’s just something different here. I need to work on everything for real for real. Feet, hands, coming out of my stance. Everything.”

Orr said he feels he’s learning new aspects of offensive line play each day, whether it’s from teammates or assistant coach Alex Atkins. Orr already feels a strong connection to the linemen as well as Atkins.

“He’s a great guy,” Orr said. “He could be like a father figure. He’s there for you off the field, on the field. He’s just there for you always. He’s always there to help.”