Football players of all sizes, shapes and ages roamed Pitt’s football complex today, including current players getting ready for the season on their own, high school prospects participating in the program’s annual 7-on-7 tournament and one fresh face who could be the starting quarterback for the Panthers.
Tom Savage, who previously transferred from Rutgers to Arizona since starting three seasons at Philadelphia’s Cardinal O’Hara High School, has enrolled at Pitt.
Saturday, he tweeted: “Moving to Pittsburgh tomorrow… Nervous and excited… next chapter in my life.”
He did not return a call from the Tribune-Review on Sunday, but he did join his new teammates at an informal dinner/get-together in advance of the start of the university’s second summer session Monday.
Savage, 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, won’t be eligible until ’13 after sitting out the upcoming season as a transfer. Savage is permitted to participate in every practice and meeting with the quarterbacks, missing only the games.
Next year, with Tino Sunseri’s eligibility exhausted, Savage could compete for the starting job with this year’s heralded freshman Chad Voytik. Quarterbacks Trey Anderson and Mark Myers, who will be juniors by that time, also could be in the mix.
So far, Savage is the only quarterback in Pitt’s Class of 2013, but Tra’Von Chapman, a four-star rising senior at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Kent, Ohio, said he is leaning toward the Panthers.
If all of those guys are still around next spring, Pitt could have a lot of intriguing depth at quarterback.
Savage started 11 games as a freshman for Rutgers in 2009, throwing for 2,211 yards and 14 touchdowns in 11 games. The following season, he hurt his hand and lost his job to Chas Dodd, but still threw for 11 touchdowns in six games.
Nonetheless, he transferred to Arizona where he was forced to sit out last season. After the season, Savage, 22, said he wanted to leave Arizona to be closer to his family.
He said the coaching change at Arizona, with Rich Rodriguez replacing Mike Stoops and installing a spread offense, had nothing to do with his decision to leave.
“This is a personal decision about my family and was not influenced by Coach Rodriguez or his style of play,” Savage said in a statement upon leaving Arizona.
Rodriguez wished Savage well, but the coach also said Savage would have competed for the starting job this season.
Rutgers was interested in having Savage return, but only if he had two years of eligibility. As it turned out, he has only one because he must sit out the 2012 season for the same reason he missed 2011.
He applied for a hardship waiver, but the NCAA turned him down in January. The only way he could have played this season would be if he transferred to a Division 2 or 3 school.
“If I had to make the decision again (to leave Arizona), I’d make the same decision,” Savage told the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger in January. “It’s my family. Football is just a game. I had to step up and be a man and be there for my family and help out. It’s a tough decision (by the NCAA), but it’s not the end-all, be-all right now.”
He sure sounds like a young man with his head pointed in the right direction.
In 2009, Savage was the top-ranked pro-style quarterback in Pennsylvania and a four-star recruit, according to Rivals.com. He also was No. 5 overall prospect in the state and the No. 8 pro-style quarterback in the nation.
“He was always very poised and always very composed,” Cardinal O’Hara coach Dan Algeo said.
With offers from more than 20 top schools, including Michigan, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Penn State and Pitt, Savage chose Rutgers.
Star-Ledger sports reporter Tom Luicci called Savage in a story this year “the most heralded quarterback recruit in school history.”
Savage is an interesting prospect, but keep him in the back of your mind until next spring.