Saint Louis offensive lineman Jonah Savaiinaea has committed to Arizona so quietly, even his position coaches might be impressed.
The 6-foot-4, 345-pound junior gave the Wildcats his oral commitment on Monday.
“He liked it. He likes everything there and he wanted to commit,” Saint Louis coach Ron Lee said. “If he’s not the best offensive lineman in the state, I don’t know who is. He’s a huge get for Arizona. And he’s a really good student.”
Savaiinaea has a 3.7 grade-point average.
It wasn’t Savaiinaea, however, who made the news public. It was shared on social media by the Trench Dawgz, his club football team.
For months, his Twitter account has been suspended. He even started a second account, and though his content was football-related, the social media hub banned that, too.
So, since the start of 2021 when Savaiinaea had five offers, he has since garnered offers from UCF, San Diego State, San Jose State and Arizona. He travelled with his mother and younger brother, Julian, to SDSU and Arizona over the weekend. The Wildcats offered a scholarship to Julian, a promising defensive end at Saint Louis on Sunday.
By Monday, older brother Jonah was all in. Even if much of social media had no idea.
“It’s been great ever since I took my visits. My first time flying to Arizona and San Diego. I love the environment (at Arizona). People say they hate the weather, but you get used to it,” Savaiinaea said of the 120-degree temperatures in Tucson. “Ever since (offensive line) coach Brennan Carroll interacted with me, we’ve built a relationship since then.”
The face to face communication with coaches was another factor.
“Before this new staff came, I heard the players couldn’t interact well with the (previous) staff. They weren’t allowed to go to the coaching office. That’s why some of the players transferred out. That’s why with this new staff, things changed a lot. (Head) coach (Jedd) Fisch started inviting them to his house every Wednesday, by position groups — not the whole team. So everyone’s interacting,” Savaiinaea said.
His unofficial visit coincided with a pool party at the house.
“They served a lot of food on my visit, but I didn’t want to eat that much. We’re training (at Saint Louis),” he said.
Arizona’s balanced offense is another attraction.
“I’m really interested in their offensive scheme. They run the ball and the defense has to play the run, and they get the defense to bite with play-action. They want to run outside, so that’s what they do, run, run, run,” Savaiinaea said. “It’s a combination of the NFC West offenses, the Seahawks, ’Niners and Rams. My team is the ‘Niners.”
It was Arizona’s rival, Arizona State, that had the inside track early on. NFL Hall of Famer Ken Mawae was the Sun Devils’ offensive line coach, but later returned to the league.
“Arizona State was my top team, but they switched it around after he left. That changed everything,” Savaiinaea said.
UCF was also among his top choices.
“If I was the visit them on an official visit, I would go,” he said. “Though it’s a pretty long way for my parents.”
Savaiinaea stays on his toes with conditioning and footwork lessons from former Hawaii standout defensive lineman Michael Lafaele.
“I’ve been working out all summer. Our team practice started up, no helmets, no pads, last week. Pretty much the whole team is there,” he said.
That makes three Crusader offensive linemen with FBS scholarship offers. Center Ethan Spencer, also a senior, received an offer from Hawaii last week. The Crusader O-linemen know the mantra of their position coaches, Rob Crowell and James Hall.
“What we’re told every day at practice is, be quiet and work,” Savaiinaea said.
That might be why his absence from Twitter isn’t all that bad, even if he misses it a little.
“Twitter said I was spamming, but I only post graphics from coaches. My last graphic was from Syracuse. I tried to reach (Twitter), and they said they would email back,” Savaiinaea said. “One of our commits from my same class who committed to Arizona, his account got suspended, too. I dunno. My brother’s account is still running. La‘akea (Kapoi)’s account is still running.”
Regardless, Savaiinaea says there is no chance he will change his mind, even though Arizona doesn’t have his choice of major, kinesiology.
“I don’t think Arizona has it. Plan B for me is business management,” he said. “Shout out to all my coaches who have been there along my journey. My parents (Joe and Annette Savaiinaea), my siblings.”
Jonah Savaiinaea, Saint Louis, OL, 6-3, 330
Arizona State 6/13/20
UCF Early 2021
San Diego State April 2021
San Jose State May 2021
Arizona May 2021
COMMITTED Arizona 6/22/21