He is the first quarterback drafted by O'Brien, whom the Texans hired in January. O'Brien coached Tom Brady in New England, and at Penn State transformed Matt McGloin, a former walk-on, into the caliber of player who started six games for the Oakland Raiders last season.
After throwing for 2,958 yards, 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions last season, Savage saw his stock rise drastically throughout the predraft process. He met with, worked out for, or visited with 24 of the NFL's 32 teams.
O'Brien and Texans QB coach George Godsey met with him at Pitt and came way impressed. Savage and O'Brien had somewhat of a preexisting relationship, as Savage at one time considered transferring to Penn State, O'Brien said.
"The thing about Tom that I liked was he's a young guy, he's a hungry guy and he was a guy that was very honest with us and answered our questions to the best of his ability," O'Brien said at a news conference in Houston.
Savage, 24, had a roundabout college career that consisted of stops at three schools in three conferences over a 5-year span. A 3-year starter and U.S. Army All-American at O'Hara, he started as a true freshman in 2009 at Rutgers but lost his job during an injury-plagued sophomore season. He transferred to Arizona, but during his short stint there, coach Mike Stoops was fired and replaced by Rich Rodriguez, who runs a spread offense.
Savage was left without a school until he eventually walked on at Pitt and earned a scholarship. At home during the spring between his stints at Arizona and Pitt, the former touted high school recruit even worked construction with his dad.
"I think the best thing for me was kind of facing adversity at a young age and to go through his whole journey," Savage said. "It humbles you and it makes you mature as a man. I'll never get hurt. The only way I'm coming out of that game is if my leg's hanging off. This is a performance-based game, and if you give someone else a chance to perform over you, then they're going to take your job. I learned a lot about the whole game and life."
Also on the draft's final day, two former Penn State players heard their names called.
The Tennessee Titans drafted defensive tackle DaQuan Jones in the fourth round, with the 112th pick, eight slots ahead of Savage.
A round later, with the 175th selection, the Baltimore Ravens took guard John Urschel.
Upper Darby native and former Ohio State wide receiver Corey "Philly" Brown, also a Cardinal O'Hara alum, reportedly signed with the Carolina Panthers as an undrafted free agent.
Former Penn State linebacker Glenn Carson tweeted that he was headed to the Arizona Cardinals.
Former Nittany Lions offensive tackle Garry Gilliam signed with the Seattle Seahawks.
Silas Redd, the running back who started his collegiate career at Penn State before transferring to USC in wake of the NCAA sanctions, tweeted that he was set to join the Washington Redskins.