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Manti Te’o: The Notre Dame Linebacker Unplugged – Part One

Nov 26, 2012, 3:47 PM EDT


The following is from a recent feature written by John Walters (’88). We’ll be posting it in segments on the Strong & True blog over the next few days, but you can also check out the full article here.

From the North Shore of the island of Oahu to South Bend, Ind., Manti Te’o cuts an unconventional figure. Here is a Mormon of Polynesian descent attending college at America’s foremost Catholic university. A Hawaii native who chose to attend school six time zones east in northern Indiana. A gentle soul who smashes into ball carriers like a 20-foot wave on the gridiron. A defensive player who is being considered for the Heisman Trophy. Below is a compilation of facts, anecdotes and details on Notre Dame’s No. 5 (the defensive version), who has played a pivotal role in the Irish’s undefeated season.

Key Stats

  • Full Name: Manti Malietau Louis Te’o
  • Date of Birth: January 26, 1991
  • Place of Birth: Laie, Hawaii
  • Parents: Brian and Ottilia Te’o
  • Siblings: Sisters BrieAnne, Tiare, Eden and Maya; brother Manasseh
  • Major: Graphic design
  • GPA: 3.3
  • Size: 6-foot-2, 245 pounds
  • Dorm: Dillon Hall (first three years)
  • Twitter: @MTeo_5

Below his avatar Manti includes a quote from Alexander Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Cristo.”. . . “Life is a storm. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes.”

More Stats


  • Leading tackler and leader in interceptions for the nation’s only unbeaten team (12-0) and the second-ranked scoring defense (10.33 points per game)
  • 103 tackles (52 solo, 51 assisted), 8.58 per game
  • seven interceptions (ranks third in the nation at 0.58 per game; overall, only Phillip Thomas of Fresno State has more, with eight)
  • five-and-a-half tackles for loss
  • two fumble recoveries for eight yards (one vs. Navy in Dublin, one at Michigan State)
  • one-and-a-half sacks (one for 13 yards at Oklahoma, of Landry Jones)


  • 427 tackles, third all-time in school history behind Bob Crable (521, 1978-81) and Bob Golic (479, 1975-78)
  • Joins Crable as only Notre Dame players to record 100 or more tackles in three straight seasons
  • 63 tackles as a freshman, third in school history behind Bob Golic (82 in 1975) and Ross Browner (68 in 1973); 57 of the 63 tackles came in the final seven games of season
  • Has started past 47 games, beginning with the fourth game of his freshman season, at Purdue (longest streak of any linebacker in the country)

Notre Dame ranks second in the nation in scoring defense (10.33 points per game) and ranks in the top 19 nationally in four other defensive categories: fifth in rushing defense (92.42 yards per game), sixth in total defense (287.25 yards per game), 12th in pass efficiency defense (105.58) and 19th in sacks (2.75 per game). Te’o leads the Irish in tackling at 8.58 per game, three and a half more per game than the squad’s next-most prolific tackler, Zeke Motta (5.08 per game).

John Walters, a 1988 Notre Dame graduate, is originally from Red Bank, N.J. He has worked as a sports writer at The Daily (an iPad publication), Sports Illustrated, NBC Sports and AOL Fanhouse—and is the author of “Notre Dame Golden Moments: 20 Memorable Events That Shaped Notre Dame Football” and “The Same River Twice.” He also assisted Digger Phelps in authoring “Basketball for Dummies.”

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