Manti Te’o was a 5 star recruit out of Punahou School in Honolulu Hawaii, which is 4,962 miles away from South Bend. His visit to Notre Dame was a disaster, which was also the first time he had ever seen snow in his life. He visited a game I was present for at Notre Dame when they took on Syracuse in 2008, which Syracuse won 24-23. It was to the point where fans were throwing snowballs at the Irish players. Manti Te’o was very cold and went into the locker room at halftime and was playing video games with another recruit. How did we get this guy? While praying about where he should go to college, his parents and himself had gotten the answer that Notre Dame is the right place. Also, he didn’t want to be just another one of the linebackers to come out of USC, but make his own legacy, which we have witnessed. Lou Holtz always commented about Notre Dame is about love and faith. Te’o had faith when choosing Notre Dame over USC. His faith never wavered.
Manti Te’o chose Notre Dame 4 years ago and he didn’t know why, but this type of season is the reason he chose the Irish. As he leads his team onto the field Saturday night in Norman, he only has one thing on his mind, winning. The man that will go down as one of the best defensive players to every play at Notre Dame and will have his shot at leading his team back to prominence. Not with just his play, but his leadership and heart. The Hawaiian Hitman has 6 games left in a Notre Dame uniform and I want to cherish each one, because there will not be another Manti Te’o. Humble is a word to describe him when asked about his performance this season. He gives credit to coaches, teammates, parents, family, and the man upstairs. We have seen it for 4 years now and with the passing of his grandmother and girlfriend he has captivated the entire nation with his play and how he honors them.
Te’o leads the Irish in tackles with 69, and is tied for first in interceptions with 4, adding 1 fumble recovery as well. Then you add his presence on the field, the hard hits, pass breakups, leadership, and the reason the defense is successful. The stats might not do it for some people, but if you watched Manti play you would understand. People say that a defensive player will not be able to win the Heisman. I say that if defense wins championships then why can’t a defensive player win the Heisman?
Would Notre Dame be 7-0 without Te’o? No way. I know one player has minimal impact on a team, but Manti is the base of his team’s success. Manti isn’t just a great football player, but a great person and represents everything that Notre Dame stands for. When people talk about the Notre Dame Greats they saw play, I can say I witnessed greatness, Manti Te’o.