Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
(Photos courtesy Rutgers Daily Targum, my centraljersey.com, scarletknights.com)
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Tom Savage made his first pass as a Rutgers quarterback at shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday, a perfect spiral crossfield to wideout Marcus Cooper during warmups.
One day fans may look back at this as the official beginning of the Savage Era at Rutgers, but on this 100-degree day Savage was just one of five QBs in a green jersey using blue Stay Cool towels to battle the oppressive heat.
“I walked out there. It was real hot. I couldn’t even breathe, so I was like, ‘It’s going to be a rough one,'” said Savage, out of Springfield (PA) Cardinal O’Hara.
Savage picked Rutgers over about 25 other schools and is now the only true freshman in the battle for the starting quarterback spot.
“I’m getting there, I’m just trying to watch the older guys and we’ll see what happens,” the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Savage told a crowd of reporters.
Fifth-year redshirt seniors Dom Natale and Jabu Lovelace took turns working with the first team, while Savage, 6-6 redshirt freshman D.C. Jefferson and 6-5 redshirt freshman Steve Shimko worked with the backups.
“I thought he did a pretty good job, but nothing that jumped at me,” Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano said.
“I know [the playbook] pretty well,” Savage added. “You can always learn more from the playbook. Peyton Manning still reads his playbook every night, but I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on it now.”
Schiano said he has no specific timetable for naming a starter, but on Monday he said it would be tough for a true freshman to land the job.
“That’s an incredible amount of pressure on a freshman,” he said Monday. “Let’s just see how he does. If he gives us the best chance to win, then he’ll be playing.” Savage said the speed of the college game was “a lot different” than high school.“It’s just tough making the reads and stuff, ” he said. “The thing about college is you have to anticipate the routes and anticipate the holes, and just flood the zone. I’m working on that now, so I’ll just keep working.”Savage said he was aware that he’s behind the two redshirt freshman in terms of what he knows.“Yeah, I can tell,” he said. “All freshman will. That’s why I’m just going to keep working hard, put my head in the books and do what I gotta do.”DAVIS WORKS OUT WITH 2ND TEAM
**Junior OL Anthony Davis, who said he weighed 325 when he arrived on Monday, practiced with the second team because he didn’t make weight (315). Davis was on the cover of Sporting News earlier this year, was a preseason second-team All-American by Athlon Sports and was named to the 40-man Outland Trophy Watch List on Tuesday.
“Yeah, he’s working with the second team, as you probably noticed,” Schiano said. “He came in a little bit heavier than he was supposed to and there’s just consequences with everything that happens. In the NFL you get fined $1,000 a pound. Here I can’t do that.
“We moved Kevin [Haslam] over to left tackle for a reason, because we’re gonna make sure that we have five guys that are doing everything we ask right. I have no hesitation or no doubt that Anthony will get it right, it’s just right now it’s not.”
JEFFERSON ‘IN THE MIX’**Schiano said D.C. Jefferson is “in the mix” for the starting QB spot.
“He’s in the mix,” the coach said. “He’s right in the middle of it. It’s hard to get five guys repetitions so we have A’s and Bs’ working and two team periods and two seven-ons but everything is watched and videoed…They’re all in the mix.”
While a dozen or so reporters and cameramen crowded around Savage, Jefferson spoke to a smaller group of reporters, but said he wasn’t bothered by the attention Savage received.
“It doesn’t bother me,” he said. “Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. I’m just focused on what I have to do.”
Jefferson said he understands the situation he’s in and seemed to blame himself for not being higher up on the depth chart.
“It’s coach’s decision,” Jefferson said. “I put myself in this predicament and we have things to work through. I’m cool with where I’m at and I’m just going to continue to work hard.
“I’m in the position I’m in because of what I did and I’m coming here every day.”
DAUGHTER MOTIVATES KORDELL
Kordell Young remains “limited” because of a procedure over the summer on his surgically-repaired knee.
He only participates in individual drills and not team workouts.
“I want it more than words can explain,” Young said of returning to the field full-time. “The process is going to take a little while longer than I want it to. I’m just going to take control of the process and hopefully I’ll be ready.”
Said Schiano: “He did what he was supposed to do. Now we’re going to see how he responds. Then we’ll up his workload a little bit this week and see if we can’t get him going.”
Young said he’s motivated by his 2-year-old daughter, Sierra, who lives in South Jersey.
“I brought her into this world,” Young said. “Every time I look at her, the smile on her face. She’s such a happy little girl and I just want to keep her happy and keep the smile on her face.”
On Mohamed Sanu, Schiano said “I’m hoping by the end of the week.” Sanu is out with a concussion suffered over the summer…Schiano had high praise for RB Jourdan Brooks. “Jourdan ran really hard today. By the end he was totally gassed, but we’re not gonna let up on him. If he’s gonna be the guy, which he’s battling to be, he’s gotta be able to do it. When Ray Rice got to the 4th quarter, he put teams away. We gotta have backs that can do that.”…Redshirt freshman LB Marcus Witherspoon has been out after undergoing shoulder surgery in October and hopes to return by the Cincinnati game. “Marcus hasn’t done anything since he’s been here,” Schiano said. “He’s coming back off an injury right now, so he’s gotta show us what he can do before we can make an evaluation.”
(Photos courtesy NY Times, Jason Towlen – mycentraljersey.com)Follow Adam Zagoria on Twitter.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.