High School's 6-foot-3, 240-pound linebacker Isaac Savaiinaea
has it all.
* The size, strength and instincts to be ranked the 65th best recruit
overall in the country. "He really gets after the ball," CBS/MaxPreps.com recruiting expert Tom Lemming said.
* An equally impressive work ethic, says his coach Kale Ane. "It's great when your best player is also your hardest-working player," he said.
* And a coveted college education and athletic scholarship secured. He's committed to Stanford, though he's still planning to visit Notre Dame and Texas A&M following a quick look at UCLA this summer.
It's nice to have solid options.
Heading into tonight's Fire and Ice Bowl
matchup with West (Anchorage, Alaska)
, Savaiinaea has added an unwanted solid to his imposing frame: a plastered, cumbersome cast.
He broke his right hand recently and is out for at least a couple weeks, including today's game.
But that hasn't stopped the vivacious senior from contributing.
"I've been upgraded to Coach Isaac," Savaiinaea told Honolulu television station KHON
with a grin this week.
Savaiinaea, a team captain, has been pushing his teammates from the sideline while nursing his hand back to health.
"If I can't play, I'm not going to be down on myself," he said. "I'm going to take that time to help other players out. I just want to utilize what I've got to help my brothers out."
Savaiinaea is soft spoken and thoughtful, but he hits extremely hard and pursues instinctively. He also is extremely shifty when he carries the ball either on return or from the fullback spot.
His pursuit of more information on the college scene raised some eyebrows this summer, after taking a trip to UCLA. This was after announcing his plans to attend Stanford.
At Nike's The Opening
, a showcase of 150 of the top players in the country last month, Savaiinaea said he's not decommiting to Stanford, however he wants to see what else is out there. Watch more videos of Punahou football
That said, he maintains that his commitment to Stanford is stronger than ever, especially after Cardinal coaches reached out to him following reports Savaiinaea was seeking greener pastures – namely the Irish of Notre Dame.
South Bend is where another once highly-touted Punahou linebacker now roams - Manti Te'o.
"I'm opening up my options but not decommitting," he said. "Stanford is still No. 1. … (Stanford coaches) e-mailed me right away and they told me that any other school you got, we'll match it.
"I see how much they want me and that means a lot."
It means more to Punahou that they have Savaiinaea to help groom its young, but ultra talented underclassmen.
The Buff ‘N Blue lost 17 starters from last year's state finals team, but with uber-gifted sophomores like Semisi Uluave
(6-6, 305) and Canton Kaumatule
(6-7, 265), they are still considered a state-title threat. Savaiinaea's work ethic and leadership will need to rub off.
Now if he could just lose the cast.
"He's got great physical ability which everyone can see," Ane said. "But it's his desire to study and learn as much as possible and lift weights and get stronger that really benefits us. He motivates everyone else."