Any discussion of 2013 recruits comes with the understanding that even those players who have committed to the Cardinal could change their minds or fail to gain admission to the University. Nothing is official until national signing day on February 6, 2013, so recruiting news should be read through that filter. It's an inexact science, but it's simply too much fun to ignore.
Once upon a time there was a place in Happy Valley known as Linebacker U. There's no sense spending time here rehashing what's happened at Penn State over the past four months, but more and more it's beginning to look like Linebacker U has relocated to Palo Alto.
Stanford currently boasts the top linebacking corps in the Pac-12, and recruits across the nation are taking notice. The latest commitment came this week from the Aloha State as middle linebacker Isaac Savai'inaea out of the Punahou School made an early commitment to the Cardinal. Savai'inaea has earned raves from all corners, receiving four stars from Rivals.com and five from Scout.com. The folks at Scout even have him pegged as the #2 middle linebacker in the nation, which isn't bad.
For a little perspective, consider his offer list: Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Notre Dame, Oregon, Texas A&M, UCLA, and Utah. Even with interest rising throughout the Pac-12 and across the nation, Savai'inaea was so impressed by his recent Junior Day visit to Stanford that he made a strong commitment and spoke about ending the recruiting process. "Stanford was just the most ideal place where I could succeed in the future," he told Rivals.com. "They have one of the best educations in the nation along with a great football team that has been consistent with winning."
But how good is Savai'inaea, really? For the numbers folks out there, last month he clocked a 4.66 forty, which is plenty fast for an inside linebacker. It's his film, though, that really opens eyes. When you watch the highlight clip below, you'll see all the things you'd expect from a four-star prospect playing high school football -- lots of sacks and lots of huge hits. But what jumps out with Savai'inaea is his extreme athleticism. Not only does he use his speed to chase down running backs like a cheetah pulling down gazelles, he even returns kicks. Think about that for a moment. At 6'3" and 230 pounds, Savai'inaea is still fast enough and athletic enough to double as a punt returner. We'll obviously never seem him in that role at the college level, but we'll surely see glimpses of that elusivness and speed as he's shedding blockers and wreaking havoc in backfields up and down the Pac-12.
Beyond all this, Savai'inaea's commitment sends a message to all those in the college football universe that Stanford Football is not about to shrink back into the corner from whence it came. Fans and media must now accept the new reality in which Stanford Football is a force to be reckoned with both on the field and on the recruiting trail.
Yes, Andrew Luck has moved on, but this team is still rising.