Once a potential Stafford replacement, Savage now looking to back up Lions' QB

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — Tom Savage is entering the early stages of a competition to back up Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, a little more than a decade after he passed up the opportunity to possibly replace him. 

Detroit Lions quarterback Tom Savage throws a pass Thursday.

One of the nation's top high school recruits in 2008, Savage drew interest from a number of major programs, including Michigan, Florida State, Tennessee and Miami. Also on that list, the Georgia Bulldogs, who leaned on Stafford, then a junior at the school, to encourage Savage to commit. 

"I took an official visit and he was my host. He didn’t do a good job because I didn’t commit," Savage said, with a smile. 

Instead of accepting Georgia's offer, Savage surprised many, committing to Rutgers. What was wrong with Georgia? 

"Nothing," Savage said. "It was what was good about Rutgers, you know? I loved it."

The biggest allure, according to Savage, was former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano. 

"That’s the kind of coach you want to play for," Savage said. "They’ll sit down and talk shop with you if you want, but he’ll get after you and that’s what you want, just to be held accountable and go out there and do your job."

Unfortunately things didn't go as planned for Savage at Rutgers. After starting as a freshman, he lost the job while injured during his sophomore year. And after that season, Schiano took an NFL job. 

That led to Savage transferring, first to Arizona, then to Pittsburgh, where he finished his college career with his best season. That led to being selected in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. 

In Detroit, Savage is competing with former Michigan State standout Connor Cook to be the No. 2 QB on the depth chart. During his career, Savage has appeared in 13 games, including nine starts. He's completed 57.5 percent of his throws for 2,000 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions.