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With Savage on board, few teams have better quarterback plan than Arizona

Tom Savage won nine games as a true freshman starter at Rutgers in 2009.
Photo by Charles LeClaire-USPRESSWIRE

I’m not inclined to look up every team — at least right now, maybe in the summer — but Arizona is potentially set up as well at quarterback as any team in the country.

Put it this way: Which other team has proven winners stretched out over the next three seasons?

Other teams might have bigger stars and more five-star recruits waiting in the wings, but the Wildcats’ possibility of having Nick Foles in 2011, followed by Matt Scott and Tom Savage in 2012, and then Savage in 2013 would be a comforting feeling for any program — especially for one whose star-crossed quarterback history coincides with its Rose Bowl-less past.

Savage’s decision last week to transfer from Rutgers to Arizona gives the Wildcats the kind of long-range plan at quarterback they haven’t had since 1997, when Keith Smith was a sophomore and Ortege Jenkins was a freshman.

While those two had to co-exist for a couple of seasons — spectacularly so in 1998 when the Cats went 12-1 — Arizona seems to have a cleaner succession plan this time around.

That depends on whether Mike Stoops and his coaches have the luxury of redshirting Scott as a senior in 2011. But even if Scott is pressed into action this season, at least there is Savage sitting there for 2012 to offer his experience as he competes with youngsters Daxx Garman and Cam Allerheiligen.

Savage said his commitment to Arizona was based more on his comfort level with the school and the area than the potential depth chart.

“I’m not going to run into competition, but I’m not going to run away from it, either,” Savage told TucsonCitizen.com.

“I can’t control what’s going to happen down the road. I just have to go and compete. Can’t worry about it. May the best man win.”

Savage, from Springfield, Pa., made an official recruiting visit last week with his parents and girlfriend. He had never been to the state of Arizona.

“It was different, but it was awesome,” he said of his first glimpse of Tucson and the desert.

“I had never seen anything like it. It is a beautiful campus. Out at the practice field, looking at the mountains, it was nice. It was 67 degrees. It was beautiful.”

(Ummm … did anyone here tell him that it gets over 100 degrees for most of the summer? “Everyone told me about that,” he said with a laugh. “That’s a good problem to have.”)

Savage is not enrolled at Rutgers this spring and said he plans to arrive in Tucson in June for summer school. In the meantime, quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo will work with him on an offseason workout plan to get him ready for the “Arizona way.”

As a technical matter, Savage, as a transfer from a four-year school, can’t sign another letter-of-intent. He did sign a financial aid agreement that binds the university to give him a football scholarship if he enrolls. Savage, however, remains a recruitable athlete until he enrolls at Arizona, so his transfer isn’t official until he does so.

Savage said not to worry about any of that.

“Arizona is where I’m playing,” he said. “I told all the other coaches that this is where I’m going.”

So, to recap:

In 2011, Arizona has Foles, who has the potential to be a high-round draft pick for a program that hasn’t had a quarterback throw a pass in an NFL game since 1974.

In 2012, Arizona hopes to have Scott as a senior. He has won four of five starts in the past two seasons and, like Foles, has NFL ability, according to Stoops.

And Savage, who was a Freshman All-American in 2009, becomes eligible at Arizona in 2012. He was a high school hotshot, one of the biggest Rutgers’ signees ever. Stories at the time said he had more than 30 major scholarship offers.

On paper, Arizona is lined up with senior winners for the next three seasons.

You can never have too many quality quarterbacks, right?

For one of the few times ever, that appears to be something Arizona can say about its program.

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