Honolulu (Punahoa) Hawaii linebacker Isaac Savaiinaea is a step closer to finishing out his senior season. The 6 foot 3, 235 pound Savaiinaea and his teammates wrapped their 7-2 regular season with a 42-27 loss to Kamehameha High School. That doesn't sound like a good way to head into the playoffs until you realize that Savaiinaea and the starters sat out the game and Punahoa played entirely with their backups.
"We had clinched the playoffs prior to the last game" he said "and so we played our second string. They did pretty good."
Savaiinaea and his teammates are using the bye week to rest up before facing the winner of tonight's first round clash between Baldwin and Milliani. Eventually, Savainaea hopes to earn a berth in the HHSAA Division I finals on November 16.
Savaiinaea is also a step closer to ending the recruiting process although it may not be any time soon. He said that he is done with official visits after spending last weekend at UCLA and having been to Texas A&M, Notre Dame, and Stanford over the course of the season. It was his second visit to UCLA as he had taken in the Bruins' campus over the summer with some family friends when he was in California for a camp.
"It was great," he said. "It was one of my best. Everything there fit perfectly. Everything was good. It pretty much felt like Hawaii. The beach was right there. The coaches make football fun. The players told me that the past two years that the players didn't like football. The new coaches made them like it again. It was really inspiring. I got hang out with a lot of the linebackers during the trip like Dalton (Hilliard), Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr."
With his trips out of the way, Savaiinaea was asked where he stood as far as those four programs.
"Right now it's Texas A&M and UCLA," he said. "That's my top two."
Savaiinaea had previously committed to Stanford over the summer but confirmed that he was no longer committed to the Cardinal.
"It was my first trip to a college campus," he explained, "and when I went back out it wasn't doing it for me anymore."
Savaiinaea had indicated a few weeks ago (while he was still committed to Stanford and in the process of taking official visits) that he would hold off on making or announcing a final decision until signing day. There had been some rumors circulating that he was very close to making a decision, possibly because Punahoa had a bye this weekend. He was asked if his timetable had changed at all.
"No sir, that's just a rumor," he said.
Savaiinaea was asked what A&M and UCLA had in common with each other.
"It's feeling you can't explain," he said. "You know that you will be comfortable there for the next four years and that they can maximize my talents for the NFL. I want a place that I can see myself for the next four years and have a good football career but just a place that I feel comfortable."
What were the differences between the two schools?
"A&M is a bigger stage with the SEC, playing teams like Alabama," he said. "You still get good football in the Pac 12 playing USC and Oregon."
Has Savaiinaea talked to coaches from either program since his return from UCLA?
"I'm trying to let the UCLA trip settle in," he said. "I'll try to call them this weekend. Coach Ulbricht at UCLA is one of the boys. He could be my best friend. He is fun and interesting but he will push you. It would be pretty cool to have him. Coach Polian is just good people. They made me feel really comfortable about the place (A&M). They didn't try to put in a sales pitch like a lot of other coaches do."
Despite the pressures of trying to win a state championship, visiting multiple BCS programs over the course of his season, and making a choice as far as where he will play his college football, Savaiinaea indicated that he is not stressed out at all about his situation. He was asked if he would have a signing day ceremony to announce his decision.
"No sir," he replied. "There's Blasidell Center which is a big hall. We'll probably be doing it in there."