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Orr ends career as team leader
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    One of the attractions of Georgia Southern football for Russell Orr was the opportunity to win championship rings.
    Note it’s rings, not ring. Singular was not part of Orr’s thought process when it came to choosing a college to play football.
    When Orr was starring at Thomas County Central High School the Eagles were in the midst of a run in which they won six straight Southern Conference championships. That streak ended in 2002, but Orr started four games as a redshirt freshman on the 2004 title team.
    “I had an opportunity to go to Auburn and Georgia as a (invited) walk-on,” said the 6-4, 272 pound Orr who will be one of 20 Eagle seniors playing what could be their final game at Paulson Stadium on Saturday against arch-rival Furman.
    Orr has become a fixture at right tackle for the Eagles as he has started 35 straight games, second only to right guard Marcelo Estrada.
    “I came here for the rings,” said Orr who has developed into one of the premier offensive linemen in the league. “I’ve only got one and I want to add to it.”
    In order for Orr to get a second ring the No. 11 Eagles (7-2, 4-2) will have to defeat the Paladins (4-5, 3-3) who are coming into the game on the heels of a 52-49 win over Elon last Saturday.
    A victory will assure Georgia Southern of a share of the conference title. Should Elon lose at The Citadel the Eagles would get the league’s automatic bid to the Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
    An Elon win would give the Phoenix the conference’s slot in the playoff field should there be a three or four way tie. If two teams tie the bid will be determined by how the two fared head-to-head.
    Orr moved to Thomasville in middle school, but he said he gets to Macon often to visit his grandmother, Louise Orr.
    “That’s one of the good things about playing here,” said Orr. “It’s close to home and it’s only an hour and a half for me to go see my grandma. I do that as often as possible.”
    “I don’t have any regrets about coming here,” said Orr. “We’ve had a lot of fan support here, and I’ve got a lot of fond memories about playing at Paulson. We’ve had a lot of battles there.”
    One of the biggest came two years ago when the Eagles beat a No. 1 ranked Furman team, 27-24, to earn an at-large bid to the playoffs.
    “It seems like every time we play them there’s something at stake,” said Orr. “This is a big game for us. A year like last year (3-8) makes you hungry. We don’t accept losing here, and the players feed off that.”
    Coach Chris Hatcher has been effusive in his praise of the offensive line in the Eagles’ current three game win streak which has earned them a shot at playing for a championship.
    “Russell is a really good player,” said Hatcher. “We watched him when I was at Valdosta and he was playing right down the road at Thomasville. He’s our captain, and a great leader. His play speaks for itself.”   
    Offensive line coach Shawn Bostick concurs with Hatcher’s opinion, noting that Orr grades out as one of the highest Eagle linemen every game.
    “He’s an outstanding player,” said Bostick. “If we have a bell cow — a leader — without a doubt he’s that guy. If things are not going the way they need to be going I can count on him to get it going.
    “I don’t know how they pick the all-conference team, but he’s definitely deserving,” said Bostick. “Our offensive line has done a great job, especially the last three weeks.
    “Ninety per cent of the stuff they do goes unnoticed, but Russell and those other guys have been getting it done.”
    The Eagles lead the nation in rushing with an average of 341.1 yards, and Orr said it doesn’t hurt to have No. 4 on your side. That would be quarterback Jayson Foster who leads the SoCon in rushing at 174.1 yards per game, 78 yards ahead of Wofford’s Kevious Johnson.
    “He’s amazing,” said Orr. “We (linemen) don’t see his runs, but we have the satisfaction of knowing we made the blocks that spring him. And, with Jayson you can miss a block and he still can break it.
    “I love Jayson,” said Orr. “We came in together. He is a very humble kid, and it makes you want to block harder for him.”