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

Nov 29, 2012, 11:39 AM EDT

Te'o celebrates his second interception of the game against Michigan. (Photo by Matt Cashore)

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.

Decision to Remain for Senior Year:

In the pre-dawn hours before the first day of spring practice, Manti Te’o saw a shooting star. “It was a great way to start off my morning,” Te’o told Al Lesar of the South Bend Tribune. “Knowing I’m going to graduate. I made the right decision for me.”

“My coming back wasn’t to prove how I gave everything up,” Te’o told Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times. “It was to show how special this place is. No second-guessing. None. Whatever happens, happens. I told my parents, after my last home game against Wake Forest, whether I come out in pads or on crutches, it’ll be worth it.”

Te’o Versus Preseason Heisman Candidates in 2012:

Sept. 15, at 10th-ranked Michigan State and RB Le’Veon Bell: A season-high 12 tackles and one fumble recovery. Bell held to 77 yards on 19 carries and the Spartans, held to one field goal, never mounted a serious touchdown threat.

Sept. 22, 18th-ranked Michigan and QB Denard Robinson: Eight tackles and a career-high two interceptions. Robinson, celebrating his 22nd birthday, threw a career-worst four interceptions and called it “the worst game of my career.” It was also the first game of the Robinson era in Ann Arbor in which the Wolverines failed to score a touchdown.

October 27, at eighth-ranked Oklahoma and QB Landry Jones: Eleven tackles, one sack for minus-nine yards, and an interception. Jones did complete 35 of 51 passes for 355 yards, but he had no touchdowns. The 13 points the Irish allowed equaled the second-lowest total the Sooners had scored at Owen Field during the Bob Stoops era (TCU held them to 10 points in a 17-10 win on September 3, 2005). The Irish did give up their first rushing touchdown of the season, in their eighth game, to backup quarterback Blake Bell, alias “The Bell Dozer.”

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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