by Aaron Wilson
May 05, 02014
It's been a steady rise on draft boards for Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage in recent months.
The well-traveled former Rutgers and Arizona quarterback visited roughly a dozen teams, including the New York Jets, and had 10 to 12 private workouts. Savage was initially graded as a middle to late-round draft pick who's now firmly in the conversation as a potential second-round draft pick after a strong senior year and excelling at the NFL scouting combine.
He was invited to attend the NFL draft at Radio City Music Hall, but declined as he preferred to spend the draft at home with his family.
The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder is a former blue-chip recruit who started his career at Rutgers and was a freshman All-American with 2,211 yards, 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions whose career took a nosedive during his sophomore year before getting hurt, losing his starting job and then transferring when he was told by coach Greg Schiano, who's now with the New England Patriots, that he'd have to compete to win back the job.
He then went to Arizona before a coaching change from Mike Stoops to Rich Rodriguez meant he no longer fit the offense before walking on at Pitt after the NCAA denied his hardship appeal to go back to Rutgers. He earned the starting job as a senior and was named a team captain. He passed for 2,958 yards, 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions as a senior, completing 61.2 percent of his throws. Over the final seven games, he had 11 touchdowns and three interceptions.
National Football Post caught up with Savage for the following interview:
What are you hearing about your draft outlook?
Savage: "I'm excited that I'll get a shot. That's all I can really ask for at this time. I just think the teams watched all the film and all the games and it gives them a good chance to see what I did throughuot the season and see what they like. I've been through the process. I think they see I'm a clean slate they can mold and adapt to whatever they want to run for their offense."
What has attending the three different schools done for your development?
Savage: “I just think I’m a mature person. I’ve faced adversity. I’ve kind of bounced around a couple schools. I know what it's like to walk into a locker room and have to earn the trust of your teammates. One thing I definitely bring to a team is someone who’s kind of hit rock bottom from a football standpoint and persevered."
How much has the support of your family meant to you throughout the process?
Savage: "Oh yeah, absolutely. It's meant a lot. They've always been there for me. They were supportive no matter what. They've been 100 percent supportive and I thank them for that always."
Have you stayed in touch with Greg Schiano?
Savage: "He just tells me obviously to keep my head down and focus on what I can control. That's what matters most in the whole draft process. A lot of it’s luck. Everyone is on an equal playing field. You earn what you get."
How strong is your arm and how accurate are you?
Savage: "I have a lot of confidence in both. We ran a pro-style offense that required us to make those NFL throws. A lot of those throws are advanced. I'm glad I got a chance to do that."
What do you anticipate as far as where you might go in the draft? Have any teams given you a particularly strong feeling they'll pick you?
Savage: "I think any team would be a good situation. I'm just excited to get a shot. I can't really control where I get drafted or when I get drafted. All I can control are my work habits and working hard and getting ready."
Which games would you recommend scouts watching?
Savage: "I think there's a bunch of games. I think the Notre Dame where we came back and won was big. I always tell the coaches to watch a player at his worst. I tell them to watch North Carolina and Miami, games where we were down unfortunately. They want to see how a player reacts."
What went into the decision to not go to the draft in New York?
Savage: "I'll just be at home. They invited me and I decided to be just be at home and that would be the best place. I just want to enjoy the day. I don't want to be stressed out."
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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun