- Mitch Sherman, ESPN Staff Writer
Since his breakout performance at the Nike Football SPARQ Combine in Honolulu last month, junior linebacker Isaac Savaiinaea (Honolulu/Punahou School) has enjoyed the beginning stages of the recognition on the U.S. mainland he so desired.
He posted an impressive SPARQ Rating of 110.82, best among more than 450 players in attendance and healthy increase over his score from a year earlier of 90.27.
At 6-foot-3 and 231 pounds, Savaiinaea (pronounce Sa-VAH-e-ni-ah) lowered his 40-yard dash time from 4.93 to 4.66 seconds, while posting a 4.14 shuttle run, 38-foot toss of the power ball and 31-inch vertical leap.
The showing solidified his position among Hawaii’s top 2013 prospects.
No new scholarship offers arrived after the Jan. 28 event, Savaiinaea said, though he already held offers from Stanford, Colorado, Arizona and Hawaii.
Still, Savaiinaea wants more.
“I’ve been getting more (media) attention,” Savaiinaea said, “but it’s been pretty much the same with attention from the schools. They’re all great schools. Stanford is really the one that stands out for me, but I’m going to wait for more offers to come in.”
In addition to Stanford, Savaiinaea said he’s most interested in Oregon and USC. He’d also like to earn some attention from programs in the Southeastern Conference. Savaiinaea said he plans to attend a camp this year at Auburn.
And he hopes to participate in The Opening, July 5-8 at Nike’s headquarters in Oregon, he said, an invite to which may come as a result of his performance at the Honolulu combine.
It’s all part of his plan to open eyes far away from home.
Savaiinaea earned all-state honors in Hawaii and led the Punahou defense in tackles en route to a berth in the state-title game last year.
Punahou defensive end Luke Kaumatule signed with Stanford this month. Savaiinaea said he “bumped” into coaches from Oregon and Washington State on the high school campus before signing day, though they were not allowed to say more than a few words.
He said he expects to get more acquainted when college assistants visit the islands in the spring to evaluate 2013 prospects.
The latest Nike event this year served as only a “starting point,” he said. He believes plenty of room for improvement remains.
That motivation to get better grew after the 2011 Nike combine.
“It built a fire for me to do better,” Savaiinaea said. “I trained harder, lifted harder, and things fell in place.”