While former UW linebackers Mason Foster and Donald Butler prepare this weekend to take another step in their NFL careers, the man who once lined up alongside them — E.J. Savannah — is waiting for his chance.
Savannah, a Bellevue High grad, was UW’s leading tackler in 2007 when he was also sixth hin the Pac-10 with 111 — at the time, the most for a Husky in 12 years — and also a starter for much of the 2009 season.
Savannah hoped to return to UW in 2010, but an appeal to get another year of eligibility was denied by the NCAA. He had a brief tryout with the B.C. Lions in the Canadian Football League, but otherwise has been living on the Eastside since then, working and working out.
“Just trying to stay in shape and get this shot,” he said.
Savannah said the time off has helped his body heal. During his UW career he broke his hand three times, suffered a torn labrum and a high ankle sprain, among several injuries.
“I took some time off to heal my body,” he said. “So now I’m ready to go. I got in football shape.”
In fact, he says he weighs 230 pounds, down a little from his last year at UW, and says he feels “light on his feet” again.
He also feels unburdened by what was a sometimes rocky UW career in which he missed one season due to injury and another after initially being controversially suspended by then-coach Tyrone Willingham and later deciding to leave the team. He returned once Steve Sarkisian became the coach and started seven games in 2009.
He’d hoped to return in 2010 before getting word before spring ball that his appeal was denied.
“The coaches were fighting for me on that, but things just fell through and they just didn’t grant it to me,” he said. “I was pursuing it. I didn’t get a reason (why), I just got the word that they just didn’t get grant it to me.”
As well as learning some tough lessons at UW, he also earned his degree in American Ethnic Studies. Now feeling as fit as he has in years, he’s hoping an NFL team will give him a chance, happy to let them know he’s ready when they are.
Not getting another year at UW, he says, was frustrating. “But it’s also part of life,” he said. “You have to learn from it and move on and move forward. I just kind of took it and looked at it like where I could go from here, and just stayed in shape and waited for my next opportunity.”
Below is a highlight tape of Savannah:
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