It may not have been quick or easy, but the Utes finally landed a cornerback they’ve had their eyes on for years.
Davion Orphey first heard from Utah when he was in high school. Utah coach Aaron Roderick noticed Orphey playing corner and safety for Edison HS in Huntington Beach and liked the skill-set he possessed.
Unfortunately things didn’t work out academically for Orphey out of high school so he was forced to enroll at nearby Santa Ana Community College and has been developing his game there ever since.
Utah and BYU kept up the recruiting pressure as other programs fell off and over the past few months these rival schools have battled head-to-head for the services of the talented cornerback.
In September, Davion took an official visit to Provo and came away very impressed. He liked what he saw and heard from the coaches and built a strong relationship with a current Cougar player. In the end he enjoyed the experience so much that he gave the Cougars his verbal commitment to play for them in 2013.
The story didn’t end there, though.
Despite his commitment, players and coaches at Utah kept in contact with him and ultimately convinced him to take a trip to Salt Lake City to see what the Utes had to offer. With friends and family on the team the visit was a no-brainer. Despite the positives that the BYU football program offered, Orphey ultimately decided that Utah and the Pac-12 was where he wanted to play and as a result he flipped his commitment.
I caught up with Davion yesterday afternoon shortly after the news broke and we discussed his recruitment, his commitment, and where things stands for him now. Here is our Q &A:
Q) Tell me about the official visit you took to Utah this past weekend. What did you do while you were in town?
A) “First we went out to eat at this nice little restaurant (Rodizio). Then I checked out the facilities, went to a walkthrough with the team, and met some of the coaches. [On Saturday] I watched film with them, with some of the corners. I just did what they did pre-game, basically did what they do before a game and got comfortable with all that.”
Q) Who was your player host?
A) “That was my cousin Keith McGill.”
Q) All things considered, what did you like most about the visit?
A) “I played with a lot of [the players] when I was little so I was real comfortable around them. I was able to connect with the coaches too. A lot of the coaches come from where I come from in LA so it was real easy to see eye-to-eye with them. That’s one of the reasons why I changed my mind, too.”
Q) The game against Cal, what were your impressions of the team, the atmosphere, and the game itself?
A) “The atmosphere was crazy. The fans were crazy and you could tell everyone cared. I got to hang out in the tailgating, I checked that out too. I loved the atmosphere, it was great.”
Q) Let’s talk about your current season at Santa Ana. How do you feel like you’re playing this year?
A) “I’m playing good. I don’t get the ball thrown toward me a lot, but when I do I’m making plays. I have a couple of big interceptions. I’m just trying to finish off the season strong so I can move on.”
Q) What do you feel like is the strongest part of your game?
A) “How physical I am. I can match up against a lot [of players] because of who I am.”
Q) Switching over to your recruitment, when did Utah first reach out to you?
A) “Utah actually recruited me when I was in high school. I knew Coach Roderick back then so we already had a good relationship. Coach Shah stepped in recently and kept up that relationship.”
Q) What interested you initially in Utah? Did you know much about the program before they reached out to you?
A) “Not much. Being from Cali, the Pac-12 is a big deal. I didn’t know a lot about them, but I know now that they’re going to be a sweet team over the next couple years. I know they put the most corners into the NFL too.”
Q) You committed to BYU about a month ago. What convinced you originally commit to BYU, and what made you change your mind now and flip your commitment over to Utah?
A) “I went on my first visit to BYU and really hit it off and related well to their corner Jordan Johnson. I talked to all of the coaches and they were all great and real up-front with me. But I’m not LDS and the Honor Code just isn’t for me. I know they have a good schedule coming up with Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Notre Dame, but the Pac-12 means a lot to me. Honestly I felt like I was in California when I took my trip [to Utah], I just had to change. Really it just felt better. I was more comfortable, my heart was set more on Utah.”
Q) How much did playing closer to your family play into your decision?
A) “Yeah that was really important. Even playing against my friends, I have a lot of friends that play for USC, Oregon, Cal, it will be fun to play against them.”
Q) You’ll come to Utah an experienced JUCO player. What do you feel like you can provide to the team when you get there?
A) “The experience is one thing, but I feel like I can bring more skill to the table and spice it up a little more than it is…fill in the missing pieces and hopefully make it to a Rose Bowl. I feel like I can do that.”
Q) Is your recruitment over now? Are you planning any more visits? I know you’ve been talking a lot with Boise State and Mississippi State lately, where do things stand with them?
A) “I was planning on visiting Mississippi State in December but as of right now I think I’m set on Utah. They’ve (MissSt) been recruiting me hard, but they haven’t been recruiting me as hard [as Utah] and that’s an SEC school, I’d hate to take a chance and go all the way out there and not play. With Boise, they’re headed to the Big East and I’m not interested at all in the Big East.”
Q) Are there any other schools that are coming hard after you right now?
A) “Yeah, Utah State. I also had Washington call a couple of weeks ago. All of the other schools are kind of laying back now because they think I’m done now that I’m committed to a school.”
Q) At this point if another school asks you to take a visit, do you plan to?
A) “I don’t think I would. USC is my dream school and I’d love to play at UCLA, they actually called last weekend while I was on my visit, but I’m not going to go to those schools. I have family at Utah and I connect with the coaches and I’d rather play against those guys now, ya know? They took too long to recruit me so I’d rather play against them now.”
Q) Do you know some of the current Utah players? What kind of connections do you have on the Utah roster?
A) “Keith McGill is my [cousin]. I know [Geoff] Norwood, the receiver, from when I was little playing pop warner. Reggie Dunn, I know him. Travis Wilson I played with in high school. I know a lot of the players up there. It will be nice joining a team that I’m so comfortable with.”