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Orr grows into frame, focused on next step at FSU

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Rod Orr played running back in middle school and was focused on basketball more than football. But he eventually grew and began to play the defensive line and outside linebacker.

He grew. And grew. Grew right into an offensive tackle.

“He didn’t start playing offensive line until his junior year,” Gadsden City (Ala.) High coach Ali Smith told the Osceola. “And he has really taken on that role and enjoyed it, and he likes to get better. He really wants to learn as much as he can.”

Orr fit a need for Gadsden High, which was trying to find more offensive linemen. Smith and the staff slotted him at right tackle and he settled in quite well. His first year on the line, in 2019 as a junior, he began to catch the attention of Division I coaches. Yes, the frame — 6-foot-7 and 295 pounds — will jump off the computer screen. Florida State offered Orr and he committed on Sept. 25 before making it official on Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period.

“Rod was one of the stars to this class,” FSU coach Mike Norvell said. “You look at his length, athleticism. You go from a junior year to senior year film, you see the unbelievable steps that have been taken. … And you see the growth of what he’s been able to do. I thought this year he was one of the best tackle prospects his senior year of anybody that I saw. I think Rod’s best days are in front of him. I think he’ll be able to come in and have a chance to make an early impact.”

Smith agrees for a few reasons. Orr is a prospect who will be going into just his third year on the offensive line, similar to a 2020 FSU signee, Lloyd Willis. And as a two-sport athlete, who has also played basketball, Orr needs time to develop in FSU’s strength and conditioning program.

“His strength to me is his movement and his power with his natural ability,” Smith said. “Because Rod is a multi-sport athlete he hasn’t had a full calendar year in a weight room program. And I think that’s the biggest upside. Once he gets on a college campus, and he’s in a nutritional program all year long, he’s also in a weight program for offseason and things like that, I think that the sky’s the limit for him. Once he really understands his strength and gets a little bit stronger and the upper body area, he is going to be awesome.”

In just his first year on the line, Orr has gained him acclaim as a rising star. (Osceola analysts Mark Salva, Charles Fishbein and Patrick Burnham saw his ability early upon reviewing his 2019 film.) Orr was considered a top-10 player in the state by 247Sports and ESPN, earning all-state honors as a senior and playing in the prestigious Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game.

Orr has predominately played on the right side of the offensive line and offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham called him a “developmental” prospect earlier on Wednesday. But Orr has the frame and athleticism to be an impact signee.

“He could play either side,” Smith said. “He’s that athletic. And as he grows more, muscle mass and those type things and understanding blocking schemes and things like that, I do believe that either side will be good.”

For an FSU football program that has often had difficulty landing high school prospects who were natural tackles, Orr’s signing is one to look forward to for the future of an improving offensive line.

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