There are 65 first- or second-year players on Cincinnati’s roster this year. At times, they are bound to be a little overwhelmed.
“It’s like sipping water through a fire hose – everything is flying at you,” said head coach Butch Jones.
But several of the least experienced Bearcats will have to play significant roles this year, including cornerback and punt returner Trenier Orr (#2).
“We expect a lot of our redshirt freshman to play, but if you asked me to pick out one who has stood out above and beyond everyone else, it’s Trenier Orr,” said Coach Jones. “He’s having a spectacular camp and is pushing Cam Cheatham, Devin Drane, and Dominique Battle each and every day. It’s been great to see.”
Ironically, one of the reasons why Orr chose Cincinnati over Illinois and Colorado State is that he didn’t think he would have to wait until this year to see action.
“I felt like there was an opportunity to come in and play right away, but Coach Jones thought it was best for me to redshirt and now I understand,” Orr told me. “Last year was rough. No freshman wants to redshirt but now that I look back on film, I wasn’t ready. I know that I wasn’t ready. I look at my progress now and everything is so much quicker.”
Orr needed the redshirt season because he was primarily an offensive player at Ocoee High School near Orlando, Florida.
“I played quarterback, running back, wide receiver, safety, cornerback, and they gave me a couple of snaps at tight end,” said Orr. “I kind of had the mindset of a receiver because growing up, I usually played receiver. In my senior year, I barely played defensive back because they had me moving around everywhere.”
After practicing at cornerback for a year at Cincinnati, Orr says he is comfortable at the position.
“Everything has gotten better – my footwork and my technique,” said Orr. “I can say that I’m a defensive back now.”
“The big thing now is the little nuances and technical details required to play the corner position,” said Coach Jones. “Trenier has the athletic ability and the competitive nature that you want, and we’re very excited about him.”
Orr appears to be one of Cincinnati’s top three cornerbacks to begin the season, and the coaching staff has targeted him at practice to get him ready to play a key role.
“In our first scrimmage in spring ball, I had four fades thrown on me to test my mental toughness,” said Orr. “Coach Jones said that he was going to come at me in every practice to make me tough. I got beat sometimes, but I learned to snap-and-clear and do my thing.”
“We’ve told our older wide outs that ‘You’ve got a freshman out there on an island and you need to go after him and take advantage of the situation.'” said Coach Jones. “I tell you what, he’s held his own and more.”
“He’s a great talent,” said defensive coordinator Jon Jancek. “He hasn’t played in a game yet, so we’re excited to see what he can do. He makes freshman mistakes still and has to mature, but with his talent and intangibles, he can be as good as he wants to be.”
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