PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Sports

May 11, 2014

Texans finally get their QB

HOUSTON —  Coming to the NFL and learning a new system will be nothing new for new Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage.

 Savage learned four systems in four years at three different colleges before being selected  by the Texans with the 135th pick of the NFL draft Saturday.

 “They came to my pro day and I met with them,” said Savage, who completed 238 of 389 passes for 2958 yards with 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions in his senior season at Pittsburgh.  “I’ve always felt real comfortable with Coach O’Brien.  I was familiar with him at Penn State and he’s just a great coach and I’m excited to get there.”

 Savage will have lots of competition at his position.  Ryan Kirkpatrick, who played last season at Tennessee, Case Keenum, who lost all nine starts for the Texans in 2013, and TJ Yates make for a crowded scenario at the signal-caller position.

 Savage was excited about learning under new Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien, who had a role in grooming Tom Brady at New England.

 “I’m just going to have to come in there and work and compete and that’s all you can really ask for,” Savage said.  “I think obviously I have a lot to learn and I went 1,024 days without playing football and played one year at Pitt and I learned a lot from Coach Chryst but I think I have a lot of room for improvement.”

 O’Brien, who accepted the Texans head coaching job January 2, and traded quarterback Matt Schaub to Oakland for a sixth round pick, was excited to see Savage coming to Houston.

“He’s got a big arm and he’s smart,” O’Brien said.  “What stood out to us was during the process, when we watched his tape, obviously we felt like he was a guy that was an accurate passer. We felt like he was a guy that stood in the pocket and took some hits and delivered the football.”

Savage certainly took a circuitous route to the NFL.  Highly recruited out of Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield, Pennsylvania, Savage signed a letter of intent with Greg Schiano at Rutgers in 2009.  He was the Scarlet Knights starting quarterback as a freshman, completing 149 of 285 passes for 2,211 yards with 14 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.  He was named to the All American freshman team by the Football Writers Association of America.

In 2010, Savage was sidelined by a hand injury and lost his starting job to Chas Dodd so he decided to leave Rutgers.

“I was a young 19 year old bitter kid, who thought that I was entitled to some things, so I decided to get a fresh start elsewhere.”

He transferred to University of Arizona to play with Mike Stoops, and sat out the 2011 season.  Stoops was fired and replaced by Rich Rodriguez.  Savage left Arizona, without having played and returned home to Springfield.  His father put him to work in his construction business, while he was looking for a place to resume his career.

“I was out of school for the spring and my dad wasn’t going to let me sit around and I really didn’t have a school to go to,” Savage said.  “There were no real options so I started doing construction work with my dad and it was tough.  It was brutal on me.  I grew up a lot as a man and I know what I don’t want to do after football, and that’s work construction.”

He was denied a hardship waiver to return to Rutgers, so he walked on at Pitt and redshirted in 2012.  

Panthers Coach Paul Chryst named Savage the starter for the 2013 season.  Savage led the Panthers to a 7-6 season, but suffered a concussion against Virginia and bruised ribs in the Little Caesar’s Bowl game against Bowling Green.

Savage thinks that he has run the gamut in his career, and that will make him stronger as he enters the NFL.

“I think, in a football standpoint, hitting rock bottom has really helped,” Savage said.  “I think it was the best thing for me.”

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