"I suffered a blow to my knee, in a scrimmage before (my junior basketball) season even started," Orr said of his knee injury. "It was my ACL and medial meniscus. I had complete reconstruction to both and surgery went great. It was hard however sitting out that basketball season. The year before that, when I was just a sophomore, I started on a team that went 21-3 and lost in the regional championship game to Villa Angela St Joseph's. It was the school's first ever district championship and regional appearance. Then last year expectations were higher as we had all but one of our starters back. A newspaper preview came out and it was our PG, our C and me on the front page, and the caption was "State Title". (Then) a week later my knee blew out, and if I wanted to have a great senior season, my only option was to miss basketball and undergo surgery on Christmas Eve. Now, I'm to the point in my recovery where my knee is on the verge on being back to its normal feeling - it feels good. My quadriceps muscle and hamstring strength aren't even with my right leg but there making progress."
Although the knee injury was a break of bad luck in terms of his high school career, it presented an opportunity for him to figure out where he wanted to go to college and who was there still recruiting him even after his injury.
"Wisconsin, Akron, Toledo, Ohio, Cincinnati, Louisville, Kansas and Iowa State," Orr said when asked who all was actively recruiting him. "Wisconsin was in the process of offering, when I committed to Ball State, the rest of the schools wanted to wait and see the knee and how it held up. Also Walsh was another option however it was for basketball, and I would have followed our (Smithville) center Kenny Kornowski (also best friend) to play together at Walsh. They were also in the process of offering when I committed to BSU."
Orr though still had a tough decision to make and it wasn't until he made it to Muncie and the campus of Ball State that he finally found his new home.
"Back in July, I had an unofficial visit to Ball State," Orr said. "To be honest, going into the visit, I thought I had my college decision decided already, as I thought I would commit to Wisconsin. Things changed then, when I was introduced to the entire coaching staff. After meeting with most, if not all, of the coaches, my mind changed drastically. I enjoyed meeting and talking with not just one, but all of their coaches at BSU. The campus was amazing, and when I walked on to the stadium surface it felt like home. Distance also became a factor. At first, when people asked me if distance was a factor, I quickly answered no. After thinking about the 10 hour drive to Wisconsin, where I didn't know if I would be comfortable or not, it played a role also. From Marshallville, OH (Orr attends Smithville High School), it's a 4 and half hour drive to BSU which was much more reasonable. "Also to mention, I know that a lot of recruiters are basically salesman, but at BSU you could tell they knew I would fit into the role that (former TE) Darius Hill played a year ago and after showing me film on him, the way Darius and I play the game, are identical, he's probably about maybe an inch taller but other than that where pretty much identical in the way we play the game of football. Stan Parrish, the head coach at BSU then basically put the icing on the cake. When sitting down to talk with him, he is a very blunt and honest man and that's the type of coach I've had at my high school, and that's the type of coach I want to play for. He is an extremely great guy, and has been blessed with an amazing coaching staff surrounding him."
Orr definitely fits the role that Hill played the past 4 years for the Cardinals. At 6-6 he is about the same size as the 6-7 Hill and both players have good athletic ability and are capable of splitting out wide or lining up at TE or H-Back even, anywhere where their size and athleticism can create mismatches.
While he is still healing and getting back to 100%, Orr still has high hopes for his senior season.
"Expectations are high for this year's senior class on the football field," Orr said. "Smithville had 6 straight Wayne County Athletic League championships and 7 straight playoff appearances, (but) the past 2 years have been down years as we went 6-4 last year and 3-7 the year before that, however our senior class is predicted to turn that around. My older brother Brandt was a starting WR at Smithville also, and his team was the last to win the county championship, so it'd be nice to turn things around and get the championship back home. As for goals, it's for me to go out and play football, I've been waiting 7 months to finally be out playing ball again, and it's finally here so my only goal is to do what I do best - catch the football and make plays for my team."
Good luck to Derek on his continued recovery and we at BallStateInsider.com will check back with him from time to time during his senior year to see how things are going for him and his Smithville teammates.