Q&A with Tom Savage: Meet the rising QB prospect in the 2014 NFL Draft

Tom Savage
Tom Savage is one of the sleeper prospects at QB in the 2014 draft.
Credit: Getty Images

It has been a long journey for Tom Savage, the former Philadelphia prep football star at Cardinal O’Hara who made the college football world sit up and take notice in 2009 as a freshman quarterback at Rutgers.

A hand injury the next year and the loss of his starting job to the unheralded Chas Dodd led Savage to transfer from Rutgers to Arizona following the 2010 season. After sitting out a season in Tucson due to NCAA regulations, Savage was poised to compete for the starting job until the Wildcats brought in head coach Rich Rodriguez and a new offensive system. Savage, a pro-style quarterback, would never fit into Rodriguez’s scheme.

He was left to transfer again, and his first thought was to head back where his heart was.

“I just think at that time, patience wasn’t one of my virtues and I decided to leave Rutgers. Looking back on it, if I could go back and change it I’d stay there, get my job back, compete in the spring and finish what I started there,” Savage told Metro. “A couple things happened there — at Arizona. It was one of those things and I had my opportunity to go back to Rutgers. Fix the mistakes that I made and go back there and finished what I started.”

But the NCAA denied his hardship waiver, which meant he would need to sit out a season, leaving him with just one year of eligibility to play. Given the coaching change at Rutgers — Greg Schiano left for the NFL — Savage ended up at Pittsburgh instead. He sat out 2012, but got his chance in 2013.

He calls Pitt head coach Bill Crist “one of the best things to happen to me.” He completed 61.2 percent of his passes for 2,958 yards last season with the Panthers. He had 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions, numbers that have NFL scouts and general managers believing the former U.S. Army All-American can be a starter at the next level with some polishing.

It seems that despite the five-years and three programs to get here, that this long, strange journey to the NFL has made you a more resilient person.
The whole process definitely did. The process at Rutgers definitely humbled me. I’m happy I went through it at a young age, transferring – you make mistakes when you’re younger. But I came through it a better person and a more humble leader.

Heading into this past season at Pitt, your final year of NCAA eligibility, there must have been enormous pressure. You hadn’t played since 2010, a season where you faced injuries and spent most of it on your back with a bad offensive line giving up sack after sack. Coming into this year, it was your final shot at not just college football, but making a statement for the NFL.
I didn’t really put it in that context. I was happy to be with the team again and finish off my career with a bunch guys. I’ve been through that process where I didn’t have a team. You ask any former player who used to play and doesn’t play any more, they will say they miss the guys. I was excited last year to be with the guys again.

How has the three programs in five years fit into your narrative leading up to the draft? NFL teams must be interested in this part of your story and to see how you’ve overcome those obstacles.
They always ask about the journey. The one thing that the scouts and general managers and everyone is intrigued by the journey and that I’ve been through it. People want to see it, the adversity. It helps you grow as a person, as an individual. It builds character. They also think that I have a pretty high ceiling, I only really have one year of experience. Freshmen year? Yes, it was a year but I was a freshman and didn’t have much experience. There was a big gap between my freshman year and my senior year, so they really count that as one year.

And now, you’re rising up the draft board. Some out there are calling you “Tom Brady 2.0.” You’ve surpassed some bigger names in many mock drafts.
I try not to pay attention to that stuff. You really don’t know what to expect. As a competitor, you think you belong there but I’m not going to pay attention to mock drafts and mock boards. It is all speculation.

What does a team get when they draft Tom Savage?
Just a tough kid that loves the game. I’m a very loyal teammate. If you can talk to anyone from Arizona or Pittsburgh or Rutgers. Talk to the head coach or the equipment manager, they will say that I care.

What is your relationship now with Schiano since you left Rutgers?
I speak to coach often. He helps me a lot. Obviously this whole draft process is a game of its own. [I am] really trying to focus on what I can control and keep working out. Once I get the shot, that’s what you’re working for. Once they call your name, we are all on the same level playing field.

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.