One of the things that sold the Arizona Wildcats coaching staff on Rutgers transfer quarterback Tom Savage was an endorsement from his former coach, Greg Schiano.
That might come as a surprise because Schiano made headlines when he granted Savage only a partial release from his scholarship, originally barring the quarterback from contacting certain schools, including Florida and Miami.
Schiano later lifted the restrictions after further discussions with Savage, telling the Newark Star-Ledger that “the quality young man that he is” played a role in changing his mind.
“I talked to Coach Schiano at Rutgers, and he had nothing but great things to say about him,” Arizona quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo said after the university announced Thursday that Savage had signed a financial aid agreement with UA.
“That speaks volumes when the coach speaks good things about you.”
That gave the Arizona coaches an insight to Savage’s character. What Scelfo sees on film is a 6-5 quarterback who is similar to Wildcats senior Nick Foles, a former transfer from Michigan State.
“He has good pocket presence. A big, strong, physical guy,” Scelfo said. “Big arm. A gym rat when it comes to studying the game.”
Scelfo said a good situation for Arizona in this recruiting season would have been to add a junior college quarterback who had two years of eligibility, plus a redshirt year.
“We didn’t get one,” he said.
This is even better. Savage has ample Division I experience — earning Freshman All-America honors in 2009 — and will have two years of eligibility left after he sits out the 2011 season under transfer rules.
Arizona’s quarterback depth now looks like this for 2011:
- Senior Nick Foles
- Senior Matt Scott (would like to redshirt)
- Senior Bryson Beirne
- Redshirt freshman Cam Allerheiligen
- True freshman Daxx Garman
- Junior Tom Savage (must sit out 2011 season because of transfer rules)
If all goes well in 2011, then Arizona will go into 2012 with the experienced Scott and Savage.
Savage, in interviews in the past few weeks with TucsonCitizen.com, consistently has said he knew he was going to run into competition anywhere he went and that the biggest factor in his decision would be how comfortable he felt with the campus, coaches and players.
“He never once talked about the opportunity to play. He never once asked about the depth chart,” Scelfo said.
“He never talked about anything other than he wanted to get a feel for the university itself. He walked around campus and went into the buildings and fell in love with it.”
Savage, from Springfield, Pa., was the gem of Rutgers’ 2009 recruiting class, 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.
Savage completed 149 of 289 passes for 2,211 yards, with 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions, as a freshman at Rutgers. Ineffectiveness and injury led to a disappointing sophomore season in which he completed 43 of 83 passes for 521 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Quarterback Ross Oltorik, who walked-on last summer as a transfer from Ohio State, has been moved to fullback/H-back, Scelfo said.