UM was first to offer Pa. QB

While the 2008 recruiting season has officially come and gone, the process never stops. CanesTime is on the 2009 recruiting trail and we are going to introduce you to some of the names and faces you might be seeing often on the Road to Signing Day 2009. Read on to acquaint yourself with one of the top signal callers in the country, Cardinal O'Hara (PA) HS's Tom Savage.

With the 2008 season still months away from kickoff, Cardinal O'Hara (PA) High School quarterback Tom Savage is poised for a breakout season that could catapults him amongst the top select few at his position as well as a downpour of attention for the nation's major programs despite his 2007 campaign not going quite as expected.

Not only did his Cardinal O'Hara squad only finish with a 6-6 record on the season, he was sidelined for his team's final six games after breaking his foot in the Lion's 30-16 loss to North Penn, the team's second game. It was an injury he tried to play with throughout the next three games. However, after aggravating the injury in a game against Northeast Catholic (PA) his season was ended prematurely.

"I didn't know it was broken and I ended up playing the next two games," Savage said. "I wasn't going though practices, just playing in the games. That worked against some of the softer teams, but when we played against Don Bosco that was tough. They blitzed a lot and the next week I had a plate under my foot and was bandaged up. I couldn't move. My dad had to pull the plug on the season."

Savage (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) finished the season with 909 yards on 136 attempts, throwing for eight touchdowns in his six games in a Wing-T style offense.

He will have to learn a new offense this off-season that will focus the passing game. Cardinal O'Hara hired a new offensive coordinator, Mike Demajerle from Lansdowne Catholic (PA) to take over the play calling duties. He will be implementing a Shotgun-based spread offense which will play to the strengths of his quarterback.

"The new passing game is focused on spreading the ball around more and moving me around some more," Savage said. "Right now, we are just working hard. We head out at 6:45 a.m. before school and work on developing patterns and plays. We are making a big attempt to finally turn it around next year."

Not only will the expectations for Savage's Lions be higher this year, but the pressure will also fall on the four-star signal caller to play at an elite level and lead his team to wins and look good while doing it. He currently has a lofty list of offers that range from LSU to Stanford to Penn State. There will be no doubt about it; Savage will have many eyes on him throughout the season.

"I've been getting quite a few offers recently," Savage said. "LSU offered today actually. I also have offers from Georgia, Rutgers, Miami, Michigan, Iowa, Louisville, Florida, and a few more. Me and my family will sit down and break everything down and choose some unofficial visits soon so I can check out a spring practice or spring game."

He already has a trip scheduled for Athens to visit the Bulldogs in March and will visit Rutgers again in February. On his visits, Savage will be looking for the type of relationship he will be able to build with his future head coach and offensive coordinator as well as gaining a comfort level with the area.

"Looking for academics is something that every student looks for and if it is good in that area I'm interested," Savage said. "But as for football, being comfortable and close to the head coach and offensive coordinator as well as their style play is important. I am keeping my options open with that. I'll join any offense, but as I take my visits, I'll be able to see what each teams is doing and base it off that."

One coach that has gotten Savage's attention has been Miami offensive coordinator Patrick Nix. Nix first met Savage at the Rutgers' camp last year and has since developed a relationship Tom believes is "strong."

"Last year, I went to a few camps and did real well," savage said. "I (participated) in Friday Night Lights last year and was named as one the top underclassmen in attendance. I did the same at the Penn State Nike Camp, and that really kicked off (my recruitment)."

The Hurricanes were the first to offer Savage and since he and Nix have developed a bond that will keep the Hurricanes in the hunt for the talented recruit throughout the process.

"I have a real good relationship with Coach Nix," Savage said. "He is a really good person. He came down here for a camp last year and really liked me, and I was still real young and undeveloped then. I started calling him a lot and keeping in touch. He is a real good coach, so absolutely; the Hurricanes will get a look."

Savage is currently a top ten quarterback by and is regarded as the best in the northeast. His blend of size, intangibles, athleticism, and ability make him a hot commodity.

"I think my quarterback ability is good," Savage said. "I have good accuracy and arm strength. I can move a bit and that is what all of the schools are looking for, a guy that can move."

To work on his speed, Savage has enlisted the help of a speed training coach he sees twice a week.

"I'm trying to get faster and faster," Savage said. "The college game is all about speed. If your reads aren't there, you need to get out of the pocket and make plays. That is why I need to wok on that."

Savage made a name for himself as a sophomore for the Lions. He threw for over 1500 yards while throwing for 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Cardinal O'Hara however only won three games. They did however; pull off a major upset against eventual state semi-finalist North Penn (PA).

"I don't want to say we had any big games my sophomore season because we only won three games and I don't want to highlight a loss I had good stats in, but when we beat North Penn, that was a big game," Savage said. "I ran the ball a lot. That was the game that I proved I can run and make big first down throws. They were a top team, they made the state semis and we beat them, it was real cool."

With a new offense in place and an injury in the rear view mirror, Savage is poised to be a name to watch throughout the 2008 season.

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