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What if Savage had said yes to Pitt?


NFL Network commentator Mike Mayock knows college football players and their ability to adjust to the next level better than most analysts. His work is among the best because he studies players — in person and on video — like a student preparing for final exams.
So, when he mentioned former Pitt quarterback Tom Savage without a prompt during a three-hour, pre-combine conference call Tuesday, it told me this: Savage will get a chance in someone’s camp this summer.
Mayock, a former NFL and CFL safety who was the Steelers’ 10th-round draft choice in 1981, called Savage “the wild card” in this year’s draft that is top-heavy with promising quarterbacks.
“I saw him throw the football in eighth grade when he played on a team with my son,” said Mayock, a native of Philadelphia. “I said, `For an eighth-grader, he can really rip it.’ ”
Savage has a strong arm, but he isn’t the most accurate passer — 61.2 percent was 55th in the FBS last season — and Mayock acknowledged that.
“He had accuracy issues at times, but he can really push the football down the field,” he said.
Savage is working on that and his footwork in his preparations for the NFL Combine that begins Saturday in Indianapolis.
“A lot of guys in the NFL can throw the ball 70 yards,” Savage said. “The tough thing is doing it with people in your face.”
I think he will open some NFL eyes.
I know it’s not always fair to use hindsight in recruiting, but just imagine if Savage had accepted Pitt’s scholarship offer when he was a junior at Cardinal O’Hara High School, near Philadelphia. Instead, he went to Rutgers and Pitt settled on Kolby Gray, a nice kid from Texas who left school when it became clear he never would start at quarterback.
How the fortunes at Pitt would have changed. For you dreamers:
— Pitt would have had quarterback depth — something it has lacked for years — and a true challenger to Tino Sunseri’s job.
— Speaking of jobs, perhaps it would have saved Dave Wannstedt’s.
— Savage would have been in one offensive system (not three) for five years, and he would have been better prepared for the NFL.
— We never would have met Todd Graham.
— Paul Chryst would be the head coach at Wisconsin.
— And Pitt would have had a more experienced quarterback for its first season in the ACC.
To his credit, Savage is looking forward, not backwards.



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