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Football: West Forsyth’s all-time leading tackler looks to take next step
Eli Orr
West Forsyth senior Eli Orr reads the defense earlier this season during a game against Peachtree Ridge. Photo by Jay Rooney

Eli Orr won’t get a signing day. 

Like many seniors, any plans of a ceremony celebrating Orr’s commitment to play football at the next level were erased by the coronavirus pandemic. 

No big deal. Orr is used to adjusting on the fly. 

Orr, the reigning Forsyth County News Defensive Player of the Year, leaves West Forsyth as the one of the most decorated players in school history, finishing as the all-time leading tackler and the Wolverines’ leader in single-season tackles.

In the fall, he’ll be a Tennessee Tech Golden Eagle. 

“They were the first school to really recruit me and start talking to me. They invited me to their camp and they just kept in steady contact,” Orr said. “I really like the school. My uncle actually played football and baseball there. I had some family ties, and I just really liked the coaching staff and the environment there.”

Orr said he had an opportunity to play at Mercer, but he chose Tennessee Tech because it felt more like home.

Naturally, just as Orr etched his name into West Forsyth’s record book, his uncle, Johnny Orr, is among Tennessee Tech’s top baseball players.

Johnny Orr lettered in baseball and football at Tennessee Tech, and his 180 career hits ranked fourth in Golden Eagle history at the time. 

“When he played there, my grandpa would always go up and watch him play, and my dad would come see him play,” Eli Orr said. “When we went up to visit, my dad and grandpa were already very familiar with the campus, and they were telling me about it.”

Orr logged 324 total tackles in his career at West Forsyth, shattering Nathan Teter’s previous record of 246. His 140 tackles as a junior broke another Teter record, placing Orr three tackles ahead of the mark.

Right now, Orr is busy trying to stay in shape. The Tennessee Tech coaching staff sent him a workout regimen that he follows the best he can.

“I’m actually pretty lucky, because I’ve got a full power rack in the basement, so I haven’t had any shortage of weights,” Orr said. “I mean, I’ve been running in the neighborhood, then we’ve got a grass field so I’ve been running on that, and then I’ve just been lifting. That’s pretty much all you can do right now, is work out and eat.”

Tennessee Tech competes in the Division I FCS Ohio Valley Conference, which has produced NFL starters such as Tony Romo, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Jimmy Garoppolo.

Tennessee Tech finished 6-6 last year, including a 3-5 record in conference play.