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Football: Orr on major award watch

Profile image for By Brett Vito / Staff Writer
By Brett Vito / Staff Writer

Zach Orr didn’t need any additional accolades to cement his standing as a significant figure in North Texas history, not to mention his status as a player the Mean Green will lean on heavily in his senior season.

The Mean Green’s starting middle linebacker is already a two-time team captain and two-time second-team All-Sun Belt Conference pick.

Orr added the title of Lombardi Award nominee to his resume on Monday, when his list of accomplishments with the Mean Green became just a bit longer.

The former DeSoto standout was one of 107 players nominated for the award that recognizes the top lineman or linebacker in the country.

“I have been blessed. I never would have thought I would have come into college and had the chance to be a captain and a leader,” Orr said during UNT’s spring workouts. “I have one more year of it and am enjoying it and taking it day by day.”

Orr finished with 108 tackles last season to go along with the 134 stops he posted in the first two years of his career at UNT, where he has often come through with key plays in critical situations. His second-quarter interception last season against Louisiana-Lafayette helped the Mean Green turn the momentum early in a 30-23 win on national television that was arguably UNT’s biggest win of the year.

Orr has been a leader on and off the field for the Mean Green throughout his career. He was among the 16 representatives of the Conference USA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee who volunteered at the North Texas Food Bank on Friday.

“Orr has always been a leader for this team,” UNT defensive end Chad Polk said. “He is like a big brother on and off the field. He is so consistent. He performs at his best against every opponent.”

That consitency is one reason Orr will enter the season as one of UNT’s unquestioned leaders. While the team vote has yet to be taken, UNT head coach Dan McCarney said he has no doubt that Orr will be selected as a team captain for the third straight season this fall.

The honor will be just another to add to the list that now includes being a nominee for the Lombardi Award.

“This is a great honor for Zach to be on this list with so many great players from across the nation,” McCarney said in a prepared statement. “Zach’s the leader of our defense, and he’s one of the best players that I’ve ever had the pleasure to coach in my time.”

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 or via Twitter at @brettvito.