Savannah: No room for the timid or weak

Washington head coach Tyrone Willingham has spoken over and over about the need for competition at every position. Why is that? Because it brings out the best in everyone. One of the most-watched position battles during camp so far has been between redshirt freshman E.J. Savannah and sophomore Chris Stevens for the weakside (WIL) linebacker spot that was opened when Evan Benjamin graduated.

While it's an intense battle, Savannah said it's still a friendly competition.

"Me and Chris, we have no beef at all," Savannah said. "We support each other in everything and like, you know, coach sat us down and he told us that ‘we've got the support each other in this type of a situation'. We can't have any animosity towards each other and we don't.

"I think it's a real good competition between us because it brings out the best in us every day because you want to do your best to compete for that starting spot so we're not out there taking plays off."

Savannah had the talent to play last season, but because of a lingering high school shoulder injury, he redshirted hoping the rest would allow his joint to heal fully. While the shoulder is now at 100%, the team is being careful with one of the hardest hitters that Montlake has seen in a while.

At times during camp, Savannah has worn a red jersey meaning he couldn't participate in any contact drills. "It's just two-a-days and stuff and we've been doing a lot of banging around and they just wanted to be cautious with me and lay off of things just a little bit," Savannah said. "I think the team knows that I can hit pretty good."

His position coach Chris Tormey certainly knows.

"He's definitely a hitter," Tormey admitted. "He's got great speed and he picks things up pretty quickly too. We like the physical nature he brings to the team, so he just needs to work on reading his keys and keeping his eye progression where we want it.

"He has all the talent and the attitude to be successful, now it's just a matter of him putting it all together."

"I don't doubt my ability," Savannah said confidently. "I just really need to understand the defense because that's what's really holding me back. Once I get that I will be good to go."

Growing up a mere 15 minute drive from Husky Stadium, Savannah knows the history and tradition of the Washington football program and said he hates seeing things the way they've been the past two seasons.

"That's the whole reason why I came here," Savannah said regarding the current rebuilding project going on at Montlake. "It's because of the pride and tradition was lacking for the few years prior to when I got here, but I came here with the chance in my mind to bring it back and that would be amazing to bring back the pride and tradition of Husky football.

"We have a little saying here, ‘The pride and tradition of Husky football cannot be entrusted to the timid or weak' and we're out there not trying to be timid or weak and we're trying to bring it every day and we're going to bring it on Saturdays.

"These fans we have here, I mean, I was one of them. I know what it means to wear that helmet with the ‘W' on it and what it means. I appreciate all that what this place means to the fans and stuff. They want tough, hard-hitting football and that's what we plan to give them."

Even with his lack of playing time, Tormey said Savannah already has what he needs to be a great leader.

"E.J. is an upbeat guy," Tormey said. "He's an effervescent guy. People like being around him and they like his personality and he loves to play football so he has a very positive influence."

And, almost right on queue, as soon as our interview ended, Savannah, with sandwich in hand, headed back to his dorm with four teammates who had waited patiently for him.

There is not room for the timid or weak, but the well-liked? That's a different story. Top Stories