Former Rutgers starting quarterback Tom Savage, who has dropped out of school this semester while he decides where to transfer, said Wednesday he is “really interested” in Arizona.
He told TucsonCitizen.com that he has been in contact with the Wildcats coaching staff and hopes to come on a recruiting visit soon.
“To be perfectly honest, when I knew I was going to transfer, Arizona was always up there on the top of my list,” Savage said. “I’ve watched the offense they run. They throw the heck out of the ball. It’s a great team. It looks like a lot of fun to play out there.”
Savage was a starter as a true freshman in 2009 but struggled early in 2010, was injured, and spent the rest of the season as the backup. He was granted a conditional release by Rutgers, which means he has permission to only talk to certain schools, including Arizona.
Rutgers coach Greg Schiano has barred Savage from talking to certain schools, including Miami, Florida, Florida State and Michigan. The Savage family is appealing that decision to the university and could hear a resolution within a week.
If that appeal is denied, Savage cannot talk to coaches from those schools about a transfer and he could not receive athletic aid from those schools for an academic year.
Regardless of how the appeal turns out, Savage says he wants to explore any Arizona options.
“I’m excited to go out there and take a look,” he said.
Savage’s family has researched his potential schools, and he said he knows Arizona could very well have little or no experience at quarterback in 2012, when he would be eligible after sitting out one season under transfer rules.
“We looked into as much as we can, but there is going to be competition wherever you go,” he said. “You can’t predict what is going to happen. You can’t predict who is going to be there or not going to be there. I expect to compete wherever I go.”
Savage, who is from Springfield, Pa., outside of Philadelphia, said he has no ties to Arizona or the West — “we’re a Northeast family,” he said — and his family already has discussed (and largely dismissed) the distance factor.
“Once you’re on a plane, it doesn’t matter where you go,” Savage said. “What’s another hour on a plane going to hurt? It’s time for me to grow up and go far away and fend for myself.”
Savage (6-5, 226) was one of the top freshman quarterbacks in the country in 2009, completing 149 of 289 passes for 2,211 yards, with 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. In 2010, he was 43 of 83 for 521 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Savage, one of the gems of Rutgers’ 2009 recruiting class, was rated the 125th-best overall high school prospect and the 10th-best quarterback in the country by ESPN.com. Rivals.com rated Savage as a four-star prospect and No. 131 overall nationally.
According to a story in the Star-Ledger in New Jersey, Rutgers officials said Schiano approved 17 of the 25 schools submitted by the family. Tom Savage Sr. said it was more like 11 or 12 out of 20.
According to what Savage said Wednesday, his interest in Arizona is genuine, although he didn’t make any kind of a top five list.
“That is a great environment out there,” he said. “Definitely different from Philadelphia. We have 10 inches of snow on the ground.”