There was a sadness that came over Honolulu Punahou inside linebacker Isaac Savaiinaea when Sunday afternoon arrived.
That's because it was the end of his official visit to Texas A&M, a trip that the Stanford commitment called "amazing." He enjoyed the visit so much that he said he didn't want to return home to Honolulu.
"I felt so comfortable there and I didn't want to go home," Savaiinaea said. "That was the thing. I really did not want to go home. I almost shed a tear that I was going home."
The 6-foot-3, 231-pound Savaiinaea, who is the nation's fourth-ranked inside linebacker and no. 140 overall in the ESPN 150, still remains committed to Stanford but expressed a desire this year to take official visits to other schools. Texas A&M was the first of the group to get an official visit from Savaiinaea. Notre Dame, Stanford and UCLA will follow later this year.
Given the chance to make a big impression, it appears the Aggies knocked it out of the park, enough to move themselves up the ladder into contention with Stanford for Savaiinaea's services.
"They're definitely in my top two right now," Savaiinaea said. "It's kind of far and I've been talking to my family about that."
Stanford is still no. 1 for Savaiinaea, who originally committed to the Cardinal in March. The combination of football success and education, plus location and weather are all factors.
"Stanford's still the top school for me," Savaiinaea said. "It's such a great program but they also have a great education. They just got through a tough loss but good teams do lose sometimes. I'm sure they're going to pick it back up. The education there, you can't get anywhere else. That's big."
But there's no denying that some of the things Savaiinaea experienced over the weekend made lasting impacts on him.
"It was an amazing trip," he said. "College Station is unreal. It's a one-of-a-kind place and I liked it. I liked it a lot. The people there, they're so dedicated to football. The fans, Midnight Yell ... being there live, it's amazing. It's crazy to watch and crazy to see how everyone knows the cheers and they come at midnight. It's ridiculous."
Freshman defensive lineman Polo Manukainiu, who is of Tongan descent, served as the host for Savaiinaea, who's Samoan.
"We clicked instantly," Savaiinaea said. "It's like I've been his friend for so long. We talked so much, we went out. He made me feel so welcome there. He was a great host to me. Texas A&M was smart to make him my host."
Several non-football-related aspects of the campus impressed Savaiinaea as well.
"I want to major in business so I got to see their business school, which is really nice," he said. "I got to tour the rec center, just a tour of everywhere. I got to see where you'd live as a freshman. You live in apartments, which is really great, instead of small dorms."
As for the Kyle Field experience, Savaiinaea called it "beautiful to see." He also said he appreciated the coaches' approach to his trip, allowing him to enjoy his experience rather than giving the hard sell throughout. Special teams coordinator Brian Polian, who has been recruiting Savaiinaea, put the linebacker at ease.
"He told me at first, 'We're not going to talk about recruiting at first. We're going to let you enjoy yourself here. We know you've been talking about recruiting for so long,' " Savaiinaea said. "They understood the situation I was in, which I really respected from them. I did really enjoy myself and on the last day before my flight, we talked a little about recruiting and it was great."
Savaiinaea's scheduled to visit Notre Dame when it hosts Stanford on Oct. 13, then trip to Stanford when the Cardinal host Washington State on Oct. 27. The UCLA visit will come after the season. After those, Savaiinaea will assess the situation.
"I just want to take my other official visits before I really say anything," he said.
Clear receiving interest from Aggies
The Aggies are scouring the junior college ranks for potential additions to the 2013 class, and one player who could receive an offer soon is Arizona Western College tight end Cameron Clear.
Clear, who received an offer from Kentucky on Wednesday, said he has been in regular contact with Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin and Polian.
He also is receiving interest from Mississippi, Oklahoma and Vanderbilt. He scheduled an official visit to College Station, Texas, for the final weekend in November when the Aggies host Missouri at Kyle Field. Clear, who began his college career at Tennessee, said he would like to return to the Southeastern Conference.
"Since I played there, it's all I know really," Clear said. "It was fun and it was a great atmosphere at every school I went to play against and every visit I went on, it was just amazing and it just makes me want to play there."
The 6-6 Clear, who said he's down to 260 pounds now, said he gets a good vibe from Sumlin in conversations with the head coach.
"He's pretty cool, he's pretty laid back," Clear said. "I can tell that he not only wants me, but he needs me, as he told me. These past couple of weeks we've just been trying to build a relationship and even if things don't work out, we'll still have that relationship. I like Coach Sumlin."
A December graduate, Clear will have two years of eligibility left with three years available to play them. How Texas A&M utilizes tight ends will have an impact on his decision if the Aggies offer.
"That's going to play a major role," Clear said. "I have a feeling I can come in and fit in with their offense as well as the pass game and the run game. It's going to be a big plus."
2014 safety takes in Kyle Field
One unofficial visitor that attended Texas A&M's most recent game against Arkansas is Houston Lamar safety John Bonney.
Bonney, who holds three offers (Baylor, Houston, SMU), has been receiving interest from the Aggies, among other schools. His trip to College Station for the game left him impressed.
"It was really good," Bonney said. "I've never been to a game with that much tradition and everything with the yells and all that. There's a lot of tradition at A&M."
No offer has been extended by the Aggies as of yet, but Bonney said the coaching staff is showing interest in him. Running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Clarence McKinney recently visited Lamar and Bonney had the chance to visit with Kevin Sumlin and director of football sports performance Larry Jackson while he was in Aggieland.
"They seem like they're showing a lot of interest," Bonney said. "I would love for them to offer me. Right now they like me, they keep inviting me to games and coming by the school and everything. I get a good feel from them."
The 6-0, 175-pound Bonney has spent time at both cornerback and safety for Lamar this year, netting three interceptions through the Redskins' first five games.