After signing for UCLA, Savaiinaea will have his chance.
Three-star linebacker Isaac Savaiinaea has picked #UCLA.— Edward Lewis (@EdwardLewisBSR) February 6, 2013
Ranked as a 4-star recruit by the 247Sports.com composite rankings, Savaiinaea is widely considered to be one of the top middle linebackers heading into college football next season. In fact, the 247Sports.com composite rankings have him ranked as the third-best player at his position and the No. 127 prospect overall in the 2013 class.
Savaiinaea was originally thought to be headed to Stanford, but he twice decommitted from the Cardinal. It was thought after he recommitted and then decommitted a second time in November that he had narrowed his choices down to Texas A&M and UCLA.
Savaiinaea is built similarly to Te'o at 6'3", 230 pounds, and he has a comparable game, too. ESPN Insider had the following scouting report on the exciting young linebacker:
He runs well with very good acceleration to make plays outside the hashes but his short-range burst and explosion is what separates him from the pack. He lacks great reactive athleticism at times, but when he locates the ball and has a direct path between the tackles it results in punishing tackles and collisions. He fills with great power and impressive strength at the point of attack. He utilizes brute strength more at this stage, but he is able to stack and shed and maintain ground and leverage consistently. Shows good lateral quickness and agility scraping while maintaining square shoulders to the line of scrimmage and proper leverage on ball carrier. He can hit an open gap quickly (inside-out) and beat blockers to the point. He's extremely tough and explosive as a tackler.
According to ESPN Insider, he ran a 4.66 40-yard dash and had a vertical leap of 31.0 inches, so his athleticism is not in question.
As Sam Khan Jr. of ESPN Insider learned, Savaiinaea nearly quit football after he lost every game in his first four years playing the game as a child. Thankfully, he stuck with it.
Along with being an Under Armour All-American, Savaiinaea was named as a finalist for the high school Butkus Award as the nation's finest linebacker. While Te'o won on the college level, Savaiinaea couldn't make it a clean sweep for Punahou School, with Jaylon Smith of Bishop Luers (Indiana) taking the award instead.
Expect Savaiinaea to remain as a middle linebacker at the next level. While he could probably play outside, his ability to take on blockers, his instincts in the hole and his natural strength will make him a valuable asset in the middle.