Nick Savant ‘18 only needed two and a half quarters to remind the Wilkes University football team that he wasn’t the same player who suffered a season-ending injury that forced him to hang up his helmet freshman year. In fact, he had nearly doubled his 54 yard total against Wilkes from 2014 before the end of the first quarter—rushing 41 yards and 54 yards, respectively, for the first two Muhlenberg touchdowns of the game. Savant would score three more touchdowns in the season opener, including one that aided Mike Hnatkowsky ‘21 in becoming the first Muhlenberg quarterback to throw a touchdown on his first pass in at least the past 50 years, and possibly ever.
Savant did in half a game what other players can’t achieve in a full one. Playing just over two quarters, he tied his own records with five touchdowns and 30 points in one game. He was within six yards of breaking two records; amassing 277 rushing yards would’ve broken both the school record for yards in a game, which he currently holds, and the Centennial Conference record for yards in a season opener. Savant also became just the sixth player in Centennial Conference history to total 350 all-purpose yards in a game. As if these exploits weren’t enough history-making for Savant, his scoring plays of 41, 54, 50 and 70 yards made him the first Muhlenberg player with four touchdowns of 40 yards or more in a game.
“Nick has faced a ton of adversity throughout his career and he has met every challenge head on and came out on the other side of them as a better player and better person than he was prior to” – Coach Josh Carter
His efforts against the Colonels made him an easy selection for Centennial Conference offensive player of the week. In total, Savant rushed 18 times for 271 yards and caught two passes for 80 yards in the Mules’ 62-19 win over Wilkes. His 351 all-purpose yard performance broke the school record of 344 previously set by current assistant coach Joshua Carter in 2000.
“Setting records was great and it’s just as exciting to see them broken. You take a lot of pride as a coach seeing your players reach milestones in their careers,” said Carter on Savant’s success. “Nick has faced a ton of adversity throughout his career and he has met every challenge head on and came out on the other side of them as a better player and better person than he was prior to. Watching him climb all of the career charts is a privilege to be involved in and, as he continues to set the standards, we as a team look to do the same in terms of getting wins.”
The adversity Carter speaks to can be traced back to Savant’s sophomore year of high school at Saucon Valley. He missed his second season due to a broken collarbone and a partially torn hamstring. Savant came back and was named Lehigh Valley Live Athlete of the Year for 2014 as a senior. But in the first game of his collegiate career, he was sidelined after just seven carries, missing the rest of the season with a foot injury. He’s come back from that as well, setting records and then breaking his own. But this past weekend he again missed half a game, this time due to an undisclosed injury. How this constant back-and-forth of injury and success will bode for the remainder of Savant’s senior season is hard to tell. As far as the upcoming game against Susquehanna on Saturday, Savant will be ready to play, according to athletic director and acting head coach Corey Goff.
“Nick is obviously a very talented player who has been able to accomplish great things in his career, what makes him so valuable to our program are the reasons for his success,” said Goff. “Nick is a gifted athlete but what makes him so much better than other gifted athletes is his relentless work ethic, his tireless pursuit of excellence in every aspect of preparation for a football game and season. He is dedicated to proper nutrition, he works incredibly hard in the football classroom, on the field, on the track and in the weight room. As a coach, you hope your most talented players also have great character and work ethic so other members of the team can benefit from the example those players set.”
Just two games, and only four and a half quarters, in, Savant is clearly a force to be reckoned with this season. He currently leads the Centennial Conference in scoring and all-purpose yards. He’s second in rushing yards, despite rushing only 27 times, which is at least 20 less than any other player in the top five. If his injuries stay at bay for the remainder of his final year, Savant has looks to become one of the most productive running backs in Muhlenberg football history.