Days after the announced retirement of junior starter Armand Perry, Arizona State is losing another key defensive back.
Kareem Orr, a mainstay of the ASU secondary the last two seasons, is transferring from the school to Chattanooga in his hometown in Tennessee. Orr received a scholarship release from the Sun Devils last Friday, according to a source, a development which allows him to be recruited by other programs.
In 2015, Orr led the Pac-12 with six interceptions from his safety position and was named a consensus freshman All-American. He shifted to cornerback last season as a sophomore and finished with 53 tackles, five pass breakups and one interception.
The most dependable option for the Sun Devils at cornerback last season, Orr was assured of starting for the team in 2017 as a junior. In spring football practices he was clearly the most capable player in skill development work.
Orr was expected to be one of three returning starters in the secondary for an ASU defense that allowed 357 passing yards per game last year, the second worst mark in FBS history (Cal, 2014).
Now it appears the Sun Devils will be without two of those three players, a major blow to an already thin unit.
Perry, who started 10 games last year at safety in a second consecutive season plagued by injuries, decided this week to retire. He said in a twitter post that he suffered a torn shoulder labrum, torn hip labrum, and turf toe, during last season.
With Orr leaving, ASU will be down to just one returning starter among five defensive back positions. Senior Marcus Ball shifted from Spur to Bandit in the middle of the 2016 season and led the team in tackles in its remaining games. He was lightly used in the spring as a precautionary measure due to a medical condition.
Not having Perry in and of itself presents an increased challenge for first-year defensive coordinator Phil Bennett. A 39-year coaching veteran and former mentor to ASU head coach Todd Graham, Bennett began the challenging assignment ahead of the team's spring practices. It'll be an even more difficult task if Orr does elect to transfer.
A 5-foot-11, 198 pound native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Orr signed with Arizona State in the 2015 class over heavy late interest from Ohio State and other programs. He should generate a lot of interest as a transfer candidate.
The decision to transfer follows a spring in which Orr indicated he'd seen an uptick in the focus and determination of the ASU secondary.
“Me personally and the team, we’ve got a huge chip on our shoulder," Orr said in mid-April. "We don’t -- we’re tired of being the laughing stock of the Pac, we’re tired of that so we’re just coming out here and we’re ready to play.”