Since Stanford's Junior Day was essentially Savaiinaea's first time visiting a college, he wasn't sure what to expect. It's safe to say the Cardinal set a high standard.
"Honestly, everything surprised me," Savaiinaea said. "It was like my first time visiting a college pretty much and everything. It was just a sight for sore eyes. Everything was just amazing."
Savaiinaea participated in all of the usual Junior Day festivities, including a campus tour, Stanford assistant coach Lance Anderson's academic presentation, and strength and conditioning coach Shannon Turley's weightlifting presentation. He also spent plenty of one-on-one time with the Stanford coaching staff.
"I had a good talk with Coach Anderson, the new middle linebackers coach [David Kotuski] and the defensive coordinator [Derek Mason]," Savaiinaea said. "We kind of went over film alone, watching last year's Orange Bowl. It seemed pretty exciting seeing the stuff they said I would fit here doing this. And they blitzed a lot, so it seemed pretty exciting for me."
Savaiinaea, who's being recruited by Stanford as an inside linebacker, observed Kotuski during one of the team's spring practices.
"He's a cool guy," Savaiinaea said. "During practice, he's probably the one that yells the most though. It's pretty funny watching him, but he likes to crack jokes a lot, but I think some of the players are still trying to get used to him too. I think more in the process, he'll get better and hopefully he'll get me better and bring my skills up to my highest potential."
Savaiinaea was hosted on the trip by redshirt freshman Kevin Anderson, and got a chance to pick the Palo Alto native's brain about all things Stanford football.
"I was there with Kevin Anderson and he was good, he was a cool guy," Savaiinaea said. "I asked him a lot of questions about how school life is and he said everything is pretty chill over there. You have all the resources you need to succeed, so it's pretty good."
And while Savaiinaea doesn't currently have any favorites, he admits that the Junior Day visit helped Stanford's chances.
"They're kind of all equal, but going to Junior Day did really give me a good feeling about Stanford, so I would say they're kind of rising in my decision," Savaiinaea said. "But we'll see at the end when everything unfolds."
Savaiinaea said he might take an official visit to Auburn over the summer to get a taste of SEC football, but probably won't make any other trips until he takes his official visits. He plans to make a commitment close to signing day, perhaps at an All-American bowl game if he's invited.
Like many other Stanford prospects, Savaiinaea will consider NFL preparation and academic strength when he makes his college selection.
"I think just which school would help my future out more where I could have a good future for myself and I know that education is a great part of that," Savainaea said. "I want to go to the NFL, so a program with a great education and also with a great athletic program, and Stanford is pretty ideal for both of those."
Savaiinaea, who reports a 3.4 GPA and is thinking about majoring in biology, learned about Stanford's admissions process during the visit.
"They had a brief presentation on it, just the classes you have to take, the AP classes, the SAT scores you need to get, and the essays you need to write in order to get in," Savaiinaea said. "[Coach Anderson] went over it briefly, but it was pretty good to know and gets me set up for next year."
If Savaiinaea has any questions about the specifics of Stanford's admissions process, he'll have a solid resource in former Punahou teammate and class of 2012 Stanford signee Luke Kaumatule. According to Savaiinaea, Kaumatule hasn't been shy about encouraging him to consider the Cardinal.
"Yeah, he's been trying to work hard on that," Savaiinaea said. "He's been egging me on to go to Stanford. Every time I see him he goes, ‘Go Cardinal!'"
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