Wisconsin LB Chris Orr Ready To Break Out Of Brother Zach’s Shadow

Former Wisconsin linebacker Chris Orr, now a 2020 NFL Draft prospect, is proud to be part of a successful football family, but he wants to be his own person upon entering the league.

Orr’s brother, Zach, is a coaching analyst on the defensive side of the ball for the Ravens. He played for Baltimore from 2014-2016 but retired because of a congenital spine condition. His other brothers, Terrance and Nick, played football at Texas State and TCU, respectively. Their father, Terry, played eight years in the NFL (1986-1993) as a tight end for the Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers.

Though Chris says being part of a football family is a blessing, one of his goals is for Zach, Terrance and Nick to be referred to as “Chris’ brother” in the future.

“It’s an honor. I’m blessed to even be in that position,” Chris said of his family’s success on Glenn Clark Radio April 9. “Not many people have family members that have made it to the highest level of football and have some type of success. So, it’s humbling and it makes me proud to hear. But at the same time, I would love to just be Chris.”

However, that does not diminish his relationship with his brothers, especially Zach, who showed him around the Ravens facility in Owings Mills, Md., a few times and introduced him to members of the team.

“I went out to Baltimore before my sophomore year and then pretty much almost every summer break after that,” Chris said. “I’ve been out there a few times and was kind of meeting the entire team and seeing how down to earth they all were. [I] peeked through some meetings and talked to Zach a little bit about their playbook and compared them [to Wisconsin].”

Chris, a native of DeSoto, Texas, was offered a scholarship by North Texas, but he opted to attend Wisconsin in part to avoid playing in his brother’s shadow. Zach played at North Texas from 2010-2013.

“[The] coaches had no connection to my family or anything like that. They kind of just came down and found me,” Chris said. “Zach having the success that he did at both North Texas and in the league was probably a big reason why I didn’t go to the University of North Texas, which was the only Texas school to offer me.”

The inside linebacker totaled 187 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, two interceptions and four fumble recoveries at Wisconsin from 2015-2019. Orr finished his senior season with 11.5 sacks, the most in a season by an inside linebacker in school history and was named second-team All-Big Ten.

Orr could garner some attention in the draft from the Ravens, who have a dearth of inside linebackers after the departures of Josh Bynes (Cincinnati Bengals) and Patrick Onwuasor (New York Jets) in free agency.

Though Orr had an impressive season in 2019, he isn’t being mentioned with the likes of LSU’s Patrick Queen or Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray, which he admits does bother him a bit. He calls for doubters to compare the tape between the linebackers and they’ll see “one of the best linebackers in the nation.”

Unlike Queen and Murray, Orr was able to participate in his pro day before COVID-19 guidelines caused a majority of schools to cancel theirs. So even though Orr was not invited to NFL Scouting Combine, he was able to work out in front of representatives of each NFL team at Wisconsin.

He ran a 4.65 40-yard dash, a 4.08 20-yard shuttle, and a 6.99 second three-cone drill, which would have ranked him among the highest in each category among linebackers at the Combine.

If drafted, Orr says teams will get a player with a high football IQ.

“They’re getting a great teammate, a great friend, and a great man,” Orr said. “I feel like they’re getting a high character guy. When it comes to football, they’re getting probably the smartest player in the draft, without a doubt. I put my work ethic as the best and I wouldn’t put that behind anybody else.”

For more from Orr, listen to the full interview here:

Photo Credit: David Stluka/Wisconsin Athletics