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Monday July 15 2019
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Pittsburgh Profile: Tom Savage

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Former Pitt QB Tom Savage settling in with the Texans

Former Pitt quarterback Tom Savage realized his dream of playing in the NFL when the Houston Texans chose him with the 35th pick of the fourth round (135th overall) of last year’s NFL draft. His route to the NFL however, was anything but typical.

Savage attended three different schools in his collegiate career: Rutgers, Arizona, and finally Pitt. He only played in 31 games, however; 12 at Pitt and 19 with Rutgers. He made a strong enough impression in his last year of college football at Pitt that the Texans felt comfortable with his abilities. He is working now on improving his craft of being an NFL quarterback.

“Things are going really good,” Savage said. “I’m learning more every week and just trying to continue getting better.”

He was in Pittsburgh Monday night with his NFL team as the Steelers hosted the Texans at Heinz Field. Savage was inactive for the game but he still ran out of the tunnel and stood on the opposing bench, a feat that seemed strange to him after playing at Heinz Field for the home team in college. The Steelers won 30-23.

“At first it was definitely a little odd being on the bench on the [visitors’] side of Heinz Field. I wasn’t used to running out of the other tunnel,” Savage said. “It was fun even though we didn’t come out with the win.”

While Savage was in Pittsburgh, he took some time to catch up with some former teammates. He still stays in touch with Pitt head coach Paul Chryst too, but Chryst was busy preparing the Panthers to face Georgia Tech on Saturday and was not able to attend the game.

“I met (backup quarterback) Trey Anderson for breakfast and talked to a couple of the guys,” Savage said. “I stay in touch with coach Chryst a lot. He left me a nice care package at the hotel. He’s a good guy. He cares a lot about his players. We’ve always stayed in contact.”

Even though Savage is extremely busy learning how to be an NFL quarterback, he still makes time to watch all the Pitt football games. He was excited for the Panthers’ win over Virginia Tech on Thursday night.

“I haven’t missed a game since I left, including the win over Virginia Tech,” Savage said. “Chad [Voytik] did a really good job commanding the troops and leading the team to a win. I was pumped after that game.”

Savage is currently not without Pittsburgh connections while being in Houston though. Texans offensive line coach Paul Dunn coached offensive line at Pitt, and also played offensive line for the Panthers. Also, former Pitt special teams coach Bob Ligashesky coached special teams at Pitt. Savage said the three always share stories about their days in Pittsburgh.

“Pittsburgh people are pretty close people so we always talk to each other all the time and we stick together,” Savage said. “Obviously, their time [at Pitt] was a lot earlier than mine but we tell stories all the time about Pittsburgh. I just found out a couple weeks ago that coach Dunn also played at Pitt.”

After a stellar career at Cardinal O’Hara High School in eastern Pennsylvania, where he started for three years, Savage accepted a scholarship to Rutgers. He earned freshman All-American honors after completing 149 passes on 285 attempts for 2,211 yards and 14 touchdowns.

He started the first four games his sophomore year but was sidelined by an injury and ultimately lost his starting job. He transferred to Arizona the following year and had to sit out the season due to NCAA regulations. 

While he was at Arizona, a coaching change forced him to transfer again. He eventually landed at Pitt, but had to sit out another year.

Savage made the most of his one year with the Panthers. He completed 238 passes on 389 attempts for 2,958 yards (fifth on Pitt’s all-time single-season list) and 21 touchdowns. He also scored three rushing touchdowns.

He hopes one day to be leading the Texans on the field, but realizes he has a lot of learning yet to do.

“As a competitor you want to be out there playing,” Savage said. “Absolutely one of my dreams was to play in the NFL, but I know where I’m at right now and what I need to work on.”

Savage considers staying focused and continuing to improve as keys to his future in the NFL.

“My goal is to continue to prepare and be as coachable as I can be while I get ready to go out there and play,” Savage said. “I’m not putting a time frame on anything but I’m focusing on continuing to get better. That’s my only goal right now, to keep getting better and to learn the offense.”

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