Before Sean Savoy ever enrolled at Virginia Tech, he was already preparing to contribute as a true freshman. Wide receivers coach Holmon Wiggins made a trip to Savoy’s home in Washington D.C., so he could go over as many plays with Savoy as possible.
That early work has helped Savoy propel himself to the No. 2 wide receiver position for the Hokies. And with only two games under his belt, Savoy is already making contributions.
“I think it caught me out of shock, really,” Savoy said. “I just really was coming in to make plays, and I really just think my number was called, and I went out there and made a couple plays, and they liked what I was doing.”
Savoy didn’t really expect to be in this situation. He enrolled in August, roughly eight months after Kalil Pimpleton, one of the other freshman wide receivers for the Hokies. Savoy missed out on winter conditioning and spring practices, making him feel like he needed to catch up.
“Yeah, I felt like I had a lot of catching up to do,” Savoy said. “Just as far as the standpoint, like conditioning in summer workouts and everything. I felt like I was working out back at home. Strength-wise, I was good. Conditioning, like keeping up and being in shape, I felt like I was way behind. I just felt so lazy. Like I wasn’t really prepared to come out here and play college football.”
However, once camp started, Savoy began to emerge as a reliable weapon for the Hokies.
“The last two weeks of camp, I was running with the ones and the twos, like in the slot,” Savoy said. “But then, the last two weeks, I started running with the ones, so I was like, ‘I think this is what I want,’ so I just kept making plays, kept doing film, kept going over plays, just asking any question I have, and just make sure I was staying on top of it.”
Outside of senior star Cam Phillips, Savoy has been Virginia Tech’s most reliable wide receiver. He has eight receptions for 105 yards in two games this season, and should have even more than that. Savoy dropped what would have been a huge pass from quarterback Josh Jackson in the first quarter, something that stuck with him for a while. He said that he lost sight of the ball between defenders, but that he has no excuse.
“It bugged me for probably like, a good quarter,” Savoy said. “I was mad that we were moving the ball and then we couldn’t move the ball, so I think that actually could have given us a good spot, or to keep us motivated and keep going.”
“I can’t remember what he said… he was kind of down on himself, so I kind of just came to him and said, ‘We’ll get you another one,’ and everything like that,” Josh Jackson said. “He makes those, so I think he’ll make it the next time an opportunity like that shows.”
Sure enough, later in the game, Savoy made a 38-yard reception on a deep route down the seam. Jackson says that so far, he can tell Savoy is the real deal. Despite just working together for several weeks, Jackson has developed a good rapport with the freshman wideout.
“He’s a great receiver, so obviously I feel comfortable with him in knowing he’s going to do the right thing, do the right play and everything like that,” Jackson said. “There’s a very good trust between me and him.”
Part of the reason Savoy plays so much is because he’s earned the trust of the Virginia Tech coaching staff, something that’s not easy for young players to do.
“He’s still working on some of the nuances of playing the position, but he went up and made the big catch there in the first half and continues, I think, to feel more comfortable,” said head coach Justin Fuente. “We continue to push him in his practice habits. It’s just a little bit different for him, week in and week out, but he’s a smart young man that cares and wants to do well.”
For Savoy, his role will only increase. As he becomes more and more comfortable with the college game, he should be able to make more plays. As he continues to gain experience, he should only continue to separate himself from the other receivers.
“Really, it’s just the little things,” Savoy said. “It’s not a big difference, it’s just like calling out a lot of — knowing what’s going on, knowing the concepts and actually knowing what the defense is running, what I’m running up against and knowing how to run my routes against what they’re playing.”
Savoy could also see a role in punt returns as the season progresses. After Tuesday’s practice wrapped up, Savoy fielded punts with CJ Carroll.
“It’s an idea,” Savoy said. “They just want me to grow as a player, honestly. Just to get better at that, and I guess to help the team honestly.”
If Savoy becomes a contributor there, he’s cool with that. As long as he gets an opportunity to make plays, he’s happy.
“I always want the ball in my hands,” Savoy said. “I’m just trying to make plays for me and my team.”