PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Less than a year after taking his first snap as a college football player, Rutgers' quarterback Tom Savage looks every bit the seasoned veteran that only the calendar says he is not.
But although he is just a sophomore, Savage - who graduated from Cardinal O'Hara in Delaware County - happens to be the most experienced quarterback in the Big East. And he's just one of four sophomores out of the 30 quarterbacks selected to this year's Davey O'Brien watch list.
"You have to block all of that stuff out," Savage said. "Right now, I'm just trying to focus on the season. The only thing that matters is the awards you get at the end of the season.
"Every top team in the country needs an established quarterback, and that's what I'm trying to be right now."
Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said that attitude is part of what made Savage such an instant success at the college level.
"Tom's a levelheaded guy," Schiano said. "I think that's one of his strengths at the quarterback position. He never gets too high, never gets too low. Hopefully, he can take that attitude into his [preseason recognition] . . . and as he feels better and better, that exposure will only grow more and more."
Vying for No. 2.
With sophomore wide receiver Mohammed Sanu already established as Savage's primary target, Palmyra native Quron Pratt is battling for a starting job as Rutgers' slot receiver.
After hauling in eight passes in the team's Scarlet-White spring game in March, Pratt has garnered praise from both players and coaches.
"The spring game definitely gave me confidence," Pratt said. "It really gave me an idea of what to expect this year. It showed me how the game-speed changes and it gave me experience working with the starters."
But the 6-foot, 175-pound Pratt is far from being handed a starting job.
The sophomore will try to hold off competition from a talented group of young wide receivers, including four-star recruit, 6-6 Brandon Coleman.
"They're all in the mix right now," Schiano said of his receiving corps. "Even the guys that [the freshmen] are competing with are young. . . . We don't have an elder statesman right now. So they're all in the mix until they play their way out of it."
Young Again. West Deptford native Kordell Young was once considered the heir apparent at running back to Ray Rice, who now stars for the Baltimore Ravens. But after his third knee surgery as a college player, Young is back on the field, just trying to work his way into Rutgers' running-back rotation.
"I'm feeling pretty good," said Young, who has overcome two tears in his right ACL and one in his left ACL. "I'm feeling pretty confident with how everything is going so far, and with how my knee is feeling."
Schiano said the team is nursing Young back as slowly as possible, and that the fifth-year senior is participating in about 40 percent of practice.
"Kordell is an integral part of what we want to do," Schiano said. "If he can be our third-down back, he's the best we've had in a long time at that. If he can work his way back into more than that, that'd be great."