Photo by Olivia Ross
By Parris Clarke, Assistant Sports Editor-
When you think of prime professional football talent, you typically don’t think of mid-major universities as producing the cream of the crop.
The Chattanooga Mocs are trying to buck that trend.
For the last six seasons, UTC has sent at least one player into the professional ranks of the NFL, and 11 players total for those combined years.
The Mocs have remained consistent. Over the course of those six seasons, Chattanooga has had three different head coaches. These regime changes breed new procedures and new routines, continually forcing players to adapt. Amid all the turnover, the fact that the Mocs kept this streak alive shows how committed they are to continuing this trend of excellence — no matter who’s in charge.
It also speaks to the university’s robust recruiting and player development programs. As the Mocs continue to develop into an NFL pipeline, talented recruits will flock to Chattanooga hoping to jump on the trend. UTC offers an opportunity that many “Power Five” schools can’t: the opportunity to play right away.
If a talented prospect is faced with the decision to attend a high-profile, Division I program where they would have to sit the bench for a couple of years versus coming to UTC and being able to play right away, the ability to jump right into the action has to be tantalizing.
One of the most notable of the Mocs’ NFL signees is Chattanooga native Kareem Orr. Orr was a standout cornerback who attended local Chattanooga high school, Notre Dame. He then went on to sign with Arizona State University, where he played for two years before transferring back to Chattanooga and joining the hometown Mocs. In 2019, Orr was signed by the Tennessee Titans and ended up signing a two-year contract to remain with the team in January 2020.
On Monday the Mocs opted-out of the rest of the unprecedented spring football season. So, anyone looking to get a glimpse of that professional talent that UTC possesses is going to have to wait until the fall.