PISCATAWAY, NJ – Senior defensive end Raheem Orr (Elizabeth, NJ) and senior cornerback Nate Jones (Scotch Plains, NJ) of the Rutgers football team earned All-BIG EAST honors today, as announced by the league office. Orr was named a first team defensive end, while Jones earned recognition as a second team kick returner. Orr is the first ever RU player to earn first team honors as a defensive lineman, while Jones, a first team pick last season, is the Scarlet Knights’ first two-time all-league performer since OL Shaun O’Hara (1998-99), now a member of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. The teams were selected by the BIG EAST’s head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own players.
Orr, who served as one of RU’s co-captains, enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2003. He finished second on the team in tackles with 82 (32 solo, 50 assisted), which led all BIG EAST defensive linemen. He also finished first in the league in tackles-for-loss (19.5) and was second in sacks (8.5). He ranked 14th nationally in TFLs and 31st nationally in sacks.
Named the team MVP at the annual awards banquet last Sunday (Dec. 7), Orr had seven or more tackles in 8 of 12 games, including a season-high 10 vs. Virginia Tech on Oct. 4. He also had 3.0 TFLs and 2.5 sacks vs. the Hokies. Orr also led the team with 19 quarterback hurries and was named by The Sporting News as the BIG EAST’s “Littlest Known Pass Rusher”.
Jones served as RU’s primary kick returner, averaging 25.7 yards per return. Jones returned 19 kickoffs for 489 yards, including an 81-yarder for a touchdown vs. Boston College on Nov. 15. He was named the BIG EAST Special Teams Player of the Week on Nov. 17 for his efforts. Jones also had five other kick returns of 30+ yards during the season, and also blocked a punt against Connecticut that was scooped up by a teammate and returned for a TD.
A starter at cornerback, Jones finished third on the team in tackles with 73 and was tied for the team lead with two interceptions. In 2002, Jones was the BIG EAST Co-Special Teams Player of the Year after finishing sixth in the country with a 28.3 return average.
Pittsburgh’s Larry Fitzgerald was named BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year, while Miami safety Sean Taylor earned Defensive Player of the Year honors. Andy Lee of Pittsburgh and DeAngelo Hall of Virginia Tech shared the Special Teams Player of the Year award. West Virginia wide out Chris Henry garnered BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, while the Mountaineers' Rich Rodriguez earned Coach of the Year honors.
Rutgers posted a 5-7 mark in 2003, the most wins since the 1998 season, and picked up two BIG EAST wins, also the most since '98.
A complete listing of awards can be found at: http://www.bigeast.org/sports/football/releases/12-09-03.asp