Back in February, Justin Fuente and the Hokies were very pleased with the group of wide receivers they signed headlined by athlete Caleb Farley. A torn ACL has prevented Farley from making his debut this fall, but there are some other true freshmen that are ready to play including Sean Savoy.
Savoy was close to being a four-star recruit in the 2017 class, but the Hokies were always quite high on him and were able to beat out schools like Miami, Penn State, and Maryland for the Washington D.C. native. So far in fall camp, Savoy has proven that the excitement was accurate and is set to have a role that will likely grow throughout the fall especially if he continues to improve as he has in fall camp.
“Well, Sean is talented. He’s a stronger young player. I mean, he’s 190 pounds. He’s a little more filled out, Explosiveness and quickness, he’s good with the ball in his hands. There’s a lot of nuances that come with playing the slot that he’s trying to work out and ultimately; how he can handle things, playing without the ball in his hands, will determine how much he plays. He’s a guy that could earn playing time if he continues to improve.” – Justin Fuente on Sean Savoy (August 23rd)
So far, Sean Savoy has made a strong impression on the coaching staff in many ways starting with his size as a more physically developed, bigger slot receiver that has the weight, at 190 pounds, to handle the wear and tear of the position better than smaller guys like Carroll and Pimpleton, who likely won’t be able to put on that type of weight and maintain their speed and explosiveness.
Beyond that, Savoy has proven he has the speed, quickness, and agility to make plays out of the slot with Holmon Wiggins calling Savoy a “home run hitter.” While his quickness and agility will make him a threat on some quick passes, his top-end speed and his size help his home-run hitting ability
Last season showed how the Hokies want to have slot guys who have that consistent home run capability and not just be quick pass machines, something that Cam Phillips showed time and time again from his big touchdown down the middle against ECU to his stop-and-go route touchdown against Clemson. CJ Carroll also showed that he has that “home run hitter” ability with four games with at least 1 reception for more than 20 yards including a 62-yard reception against Notre Dame.
While there hasn’t been any comments on how big of a role Savoy will receive, you can expect that his role will grow throughout the fall with a decent chance that he takes the starting slot job away from CJ Carroll at some point this season with one source suggesting that Savoy may be the Hokies’ best slot receiver already.
Kalil Pimpleton had a strong spring and will make an impact in Blacksburg, but Sean Savoy is the slot receiver of the future and could be one of the biggest breakthrough freshmen this season. Savoy has clearly shown that when he has the ball in his hands, he will be able to make things happen whether that be on quick passes, as a vertical threat to blow the top off the defense (kind of Andre Davis or Eddie Royal like), or working on jet sweeps that are much better disguised in Brad Cornelsen’s offense than they were with Scot Loeffler.
There are a couple of things that appear to still be limiting how big of a role Savoy will start the season with including how he plays without the ball.
While that may sound like a weird criticism at first for a wide receiver, there are some important things that a slot receiver must be able to do without the ball in his hands especially as a blocker in three or four receiver sets where there may only be one running back and if there is a tight end, that TE may be working in the slot opposite the slot receiver.
In addition, very few true freshmen enter college as great “route runners” and while great route-running may not be as critical in the slot, it is important to find ways to have that quick footwork and solid route-running to create separation from a nickelback or extra separation from a linebacker that could turn seven yards into 27.
One area where veteran receivers always start with an advantage is with knowledge of the offense. This goes beyond simply knowing the playbook but also understanding some of the nuances, as Justin Fuente mentioned, of the position that a veteran guy like CJ Carroll has a much better understanding of.
While simply getting reps and experience is a significant part of learning and understanding these nuances, it’s clear that Fuente believes Savoy has the skills to start incorporating some of those nuances into his game now which would take his game to the next level. However, these nuances will still take time, and is part of why Carroll is the Hokies’ top slot receiver at the time being and will allow Savoy to gain a larger role later in the season as he learns these nuances.
Looking towards the Hokies’ opener against West Virginia, Savoy is likely to be the backup slot receiver on VT’s first depth chart but should get a decent amount of snaps and the chance to make some plays. Savoy will likely have some extra motivation to have a strong performance at FedEx Field as a Washington D.C. native who will get to make his collegiate debut right outside of his hometown.
Sean Savoy has shown that, with the ball in hands, he can be a “home run hitter” that will have a role in this offense. While he still has room to improve “without the ball in his hands”, Savoy has proven that he has the work ethic to make those improvements and not only be the slot receiver of the future, but also push CJ Carroll for playing time and his starting job.