Friday, February 1, 2013
Juco G Savage grateful for second chance
By Bob Przybylo
Junior college offensive guard Dionte Savage (Yuma, Ariz./Arizona Western CC) has always been a big guy. Coming out of Flint, Mich., in the Class of 2010, numerous colleges were knocking on Savage’s door.
But Savage knew he stood little shot of qualifying academically. No matter how big and strong he was, he knew he didn’t get it done in the classroom and his only option was the junior college route.
Baylor commit Dionte Savage will likely stay in the Big 12, but an OU visit could sway him to the Sooners.
He has accepted his fate, made the most of his time in Arizona and now he’s ready to become that prospect everybody thought he would be three years ago.
Savage, who is 6-foot-5 and 340 pounds, is the only scheduled official visitor for Oklahoma right now for this final weekend before national signing day.
OU pulled off a late Baylor commitment switch last year with defensive back Zack Sanchez. The Sooners are hoping to do the same with Savage, who pledged to the Bears less than two weeks ago.
“It was about three or four weeks ago when all this craziness started to happen,” Savage said. “I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. But at the same time, it’s all confusing because you never know where you’re supposed to go.”
Baylor was the first Big 12 school to offer Savage. And following an official visit, he committed. Savage won’t go as far to say he regrets committing on his first visit, but he had no idea the recruiting storm that would follow.
Soon, Texas Tech entered the race. And then it was West Virginia, Kansas and Kansas State. And finally, OU entered the picture on Tuesday.
Savage visited Texas Tech last weekend and Kansas this week. His original plan was to visit West Virginia this weekend. But OU’s tradition and the opportunities the Sooners could bring him led him to switch his visit.
“Coach [Josh] Heupel called me Tuesday and said he had been trying to get in touch with me the last couple of days,” Savage said. “I was busy on my visits so I didn’t know. He said they want me to come in Friday and see how I like everything.
“They want me to play left guard. They don’t know how healthy some of their guys are going to be going forward.”
It’s an interesting change because for 11½ months of this recruiting cycle, the Sooners have not aggressively pursued any interior lineman.
But Savage said OU is not sure about the health of Adam Shead, who struggled with a back injury in 2012, and Tyler Evans, who is returning from a torn ACL. Savage would add depth, but Savage doesn’t want to add depth.
When you’ve waited as long as he has for his opportunity, depth doesn’t matter. He wants to start. He wants to make an impact. That’s not a guarantee at OU.
“I’m not going to go to OU just because it’s OU, though,” Savage said. “It won’t work like that. I need to go someplace where I can start. My best opportunity.
“I’m not afraid to compete. I know what I’m capable of. I don’t care what anybody else thinks. This is my decision.”
Savage’s time at Arizona Western has grounded him, he said. He’s realistic and honest with himself. He doesn’t pull any punches.
When he’s asked his strength as a player, he knows it’s run-blocking. When he’s asked what he needs to work on, he’s not too proud to admit it.
“I can pass-block, but it’s not my strength,” Savage said. “I need to work on my feet and technique. But that’s what college is for. I can’t wait to see what can happen if somebody teaches me everything.”
Savage said even if the OU visit blows him away, he most likely will stick with Baylor through the weekend. He’ll go back home, compare the schools and talk to his family before ultimately making a decision Tuesday night, he said.
Though he’s not too familiar with the Sooners as Heupel’s conversation was the first time he has talked to an OU coach, he is familiar with OU running back Damien Williams.
Williams is also from Arizona Western, and Savage said the prospect of blocking for Williams again is intriguing.
“It would be a lot of fun to play with Damien again,” Savage said. “He’s a great guy with a lot of personality. I wouldn’t mind opening up holes for him to run through once again.”
Savage’s work ethic on the field has never been an issue. He put himself in this position academically. He doesn’t regret it because it has made him stronger and has put himself in a position where he can handle success.
“It has helped me to learn to appreciate things and helped me with my character,” Savage said. “I’ve learned to value my education.
“It has become easy for me. It’s not hard to study and maintain the A-B average. Study hard and do homework for a couple hours of day. That’s all you got to do.”
Savage has two years of eligibility left and has already used a redshirt.