The Ravens have a rich history of signing undrafted free agents who go on to make big impacts for the team – particularly at the linebacker position. Most recently joining this impressive group is a once-unheralded kid from North Texas University. Charm City, meet Zach Orr.
What You Might Know
- After inking a rookie free-agent deal with Baltimore in 2014, Orr has emerged as a regular contributor for the Ravens, following in the steps of predecessors Bart Scott (a 2006 Pro Bowler), Jameel McClain, Dannell Ellerbe and Albert McClellan. Each of these players first made names for themselves on special teams and later earned significant responsibility on defense.
"I know all about the Ravens' past success with [undrafted linebackers]. It's a tradition the scouts and coaches have always been proud of and one of the reasons I signed here," Orr stated.
- Orr was one of just three rookie free agents (tackle James Hurst and running back Fitzgerald Toussaint) to make the Ravens' 53-man roster in 2014. Since then, the 6-foot, 255-pounder has become a standout special teamer, recording 11 career tackles on kickoff or punt coverage (including four this season). Though Orr saw limited action on defense as a rookie, he has played linebacker in nine games during the 2015 campaign, notching nine solo tackles, his first-career sack and one pass breakup.
- Zach's father, Terry, played eight NFL seasons (1985-93), the majority of which were spent as a tight end for the Washington Redskins. Producing 52 career receptions for 939 yards and 10 touchdowns, Terry earned two Super Bowl Championships (XXII and XXVI) in Washington.
What You Don't Know
- Though their father, Terry, never encouraged his four boys to play football, each quickly gravitated to the sport and became prominent figures on the gridiron. The Orrs' oldest son, Terrance, is the wide receivers coach at DeSoto (Texas) High School, which boasts one of the country's powerhouse programs. Zach is second in line, and after him comes, Nick, who plays defensive back as a sophomore at nationally-ranked Texas Christian University (TCU). The youngest is Chris, a freshman linebacker at the University of Wisconsin who ranks among the team's top-6 tacklers this year.
"I especially look up to Terrence," Zach affirmed. "He's a motivator in the community and in the church – a great leader who has always been able to connect with people. He always made sure my brothers and me were on the right path."
- One might think that Orr's proudest moment in life would be earning a spot on the Ravens' roster as an undrafted rookie last season. However, for the 23 year old, it's his brothers' accomplishments that resonate greatest.
"I was most proud when I found out that Terrance got the coaching job at DeSoto, and then also when my younger brothers committed to their schools on National Signing Day. To see them have a chance to play at bigger schools than I did is very gratifying."
- Orr's best friend on the Ravens is fellow linebacker Albert McClellan. "He has the same story as I do – undrafted guy and special teamer, working his way onto the field for more defensive snaps. He took me under his wing when I arrived here. Great guy – definitely the jokester of the team."
What You Need To Know
- Orr, who is well-spoken, insightful and very pleasant, says the best advice he's ever received came from his father, Terry: "'You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listen twice as much as you speak.' You can apply that to all aspect of life. That is something my dad taught me and is a reference to scripture in the Bible."
- As a second-year player who has carved out a niche for himself with the Ravens, Orr has gained some wisdom over a short period of time in the NFL. When asked which advice he'd give his past self – the stressed and anxious rookie who just 19 months ago was battling to make Baltimore's team – Orr had this to say:
"Control what you can control. It's as simple as that. Don't worry about the outside noise – you have to block it out. If the odds are stacked against you, I've learned that if you control what you can control and you keep a positive outlook on everything, things will usually work out."
- In the Ravens' past two games, Orr has played 81 defensive snaps, including a career-high 28 in Baltimore's thrilling victory at Cleveland on Monday Night Football. And according to his coaches, Orr is just getting started.
"Zach's potential is unlimited," Inside Linebackers Coach Don Martindale stated. "There have been a lot of really good linebackers to play for the Ravens. If he continues to work hard and study, Zach will help carry on that great tradition we have in Baltimore."