After last season ended and Notre Dame fans were still looking for answers after an 8-5 season. Manti Te’o was projected as a 1st round draft pick in the 2012 NFL draft. I will never forget the 2011 Lott awards when Manti stated that he wanted the memories over the money. He was coming back for his senior season. This gave every Notre Dame fan hope that this would be the year that the Irish turn it around. So far this season Manti has led the golden domers to an 8-0 record, which hasn’t happened in a decade. Manti’s personal hardship and performance this season has captivated people all over the country to the point where even Notre Dame haters admit to liking Manti Te’o.
Many players that come back for their senior season take the risk of hurting their draft stock. Look at Landry Jones. He stayed for his senior year and has lost a good amount of money doing that. Manti on the other hand has went from a first round draft pick to the best linebacker in the country and currently 4th on Mel Kiper Jr’s big board. What has Manti changed? He lost weight in the offseason, which if you watch his pass coverage it is very clear (5 interceptions). Not only that, but he looks a lot faster than he has in years past. As a 4 year starter you can see his progression from his freshman year to now and it’s amazing how much Te’o has improved his game. Manti’s closing speed has gotten even faster than it was, his tackling has improved, and his leadership has taken over this football team by storm. Coach Kelly wanted the captains to wear the C on their jersey so Manti could get the recognition he deserves. He now has it.
As for the 2012 draft I think that Manti will be taken in the top 15, where inside that top 15 is the question. Middle linebackers are never taken too high in the draft. Jarvis Jones from Georgia who is a pass rushing outside linebacker will be the first linebacker taken, but he isn’t a complete player like Manti Te’o. Pass rushers are more sought after since the NFL is now a pass happy league. The team that drafts him gets a great player, leader, and great overall person combined into one. There is a chance that he could go in the top ten if the right team with a need at linebacker is there. Where ever he goes he will play his rookie season and maybe even start depending on where he goes. If parents want their kid to have a role model then Manti is your guy.
Manti Te’o is what Notre Dame represents, greatness. He will go down in the illustrious history of Notre Dame as one of the best to ever step foot in Notre Dame Stadium. Te’o will be known as the person who had faith in Notre Dame when no one else did. We will see Manti in 5 more games in the blue and gold, cherish them all. Then watch him on Sundays.