“What stood out to us was during the process, when we watched his tape, obviously we felt like he was a guy that was an accurate passer," O'Brien said in a press conference Saturday. "We felt like he was a guy that stood in the pocket and took some hits and delivered the football. When we went there, to Pittsburgh, we met with him and we watched him and we were able to sit down and talk to him and kind of be eye ball to eye ball with him, we liked what we saw.
"In addition to that, Paul Chryst, who I have a lot of respect for, spoke very highly of him. The thing about Tom that I liked is he’s a young guy. He’s a hungry guy. He’s a guy that was very honest with us and answered our questions to the best of his ability. Those are the things that we liked about him.”
Savage, 6-4 and 228 pounds, started 13 games last season, finishing with the fifth-best passing performance (2,958 yards) in Pitt history. As the season progressed, Savage’s understanding of the game improved and he threw just three interceptions in the final nine games.
The Springfield, Pennsylvania native was sacked an astonishing FBS-high 43 times but his size and awareness kept him upright. When asked what his best quality as a quarterback is, it’s no surprise Savage considers it to be toughness.
“Toughness, I think that’s got to be the number one quality for all quarterbacks,” Savage said. “You have to be able to stay in that pocket and take a hit right under your chin and get back up and want to do it again. That’s what I learned this off-season. This is a physical game and you have to be tough mentally and physically.”
In 2013 Savage completed 61.2 percent of his passes for 21 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. He also added three rushing scores. A two-time transfer by way of Rutgers and Arizona, Savage appeared in a total of 31 games,earning 28 starts during his collegiate career. During his sophomore year at Rutgers, Savage got hurt and was no longer the starting quarterback. He transferred to Arizona but had to sit out due to NCAA regulations. Savage has learned a lot from the adversity he has faced during his collegiate career.
Savage will get his first opportunity on the Texans practice field when rookie minicamp starts Friday.
“I have learned four different systems in the last four years,” Savage said. “Pittsburgh is a very pro-style offense with all of the checks, the mike points, and readjusting the line. I am excited. I think I’ve got a nice little head start, but like I said, I have a lot to learn and I am excited to get in there and learn it.”