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Savage hopes for return

Photo by Scott Chancey

Photo by Scott Chancey

Former Westover star and current Auburn defensive back Aairon Savage is not giving up on football after missing the past two seasons due to injury, according to his father, Alphonso.

Alphonso Savage confirmed reports by several Alabama media outlets over the weekend that his son has applied for a medical waiver in hopes of getting a sixth year of eligibility. He added that his son has filled out the paperwork, and the school will soon send it to the NCAA.

"I know he is planning on being back next year," Alphonso said Monday. "He is excited, he is 100 percent as far as I know and is participating just like the regular players."

Savage missed the 2008 season after tearing his ACL at the first of fall practice and then suffered an Achilles injury in the summer that kept him out of this past season. Since Savage was redshirted in 2005, he therefore has to go through this process to play his senior season.

According to an e-mail sent to The Herald in July by Auburn associate media relations director Brad Gust, a sixth year of eligibility has been awarded in recent years to then-defensive back David Irons, tight end Cole Bennett and nose guard Tez Doolittle.

Aairon Savage was not available for comment, but Tigers coach Gene Chizik told Auburn reporters over the weekend how happy he was at the thought of Savage playing again.

"We're really hoping we're going to hear something soon," Chizik said in Saturday's Dothan Eagle. "Aairon is very much on board wanting to come back here to play at Auburn, which speaks volumes about him as a person and speaks volumes for Auburn. Guys want to come back and be a part of this. For him, it's something we really hope we can get done soon."

According to Rivals.com, Savage has been showing potential recruits around campus. And according to his father, Aairon already has his bachelor's degree in exercise science and will earn his masters in biomedicine this spring in hopes of one day being a chiropractor for possibly an NFL team.

Savage made 61 tackles and had three interceptions his senior year at Westover while being recruited by former Auburn assistant Hugh Nall. Nall told The Herald in July he knows what Savage can bring to a team.

"No. 1, he was a joy to recruit and coach, and is just a classy young man," said Nall, who now is the chief operating officer at Albany's Southern AG Carriers Inc. "I think he shows that not only on the field but in the classroom. He's (been) a great asset to the Auburn football program."

In 2005, Auburn redshirted Savage as a freshman, but he earned a starting job at safety the next season. During the 2006 campaign, he was named the Southeastern Conference's Freshman of the Week after tying for the team lead with six tackles in a 23-17 win against Mississippi. He also made his first collegiate interception during that game.

In 2007, he missed six games due to injury and had 26 tackles in seven contests.

Going into 2008, Savage was tied atop the preseason depth chart at right cornerback with Walter McFadden before injuring his ACL.

Now, there is the chance Savage will play again, and that's one reason his father said he is happy. The main reason he's happy, however, is because his son is happy and excited about playing college football again.

"If he's happy, I'm happy, that's the way it is," Alphonso Savage said. "He's just strong and determined. It's a dream and he's just hoping to fulfill his dream. He has just strong willpower. You don't give up on something that's possible, and he's not a quitter."