After a stellar high school career in Hawaii, that include Gatorade player of the year for his junior and senior season, Manti Te’o was one of the most sought-after recruits in the nation. UCLA, Stanford, Brigham Young, USC and a slew of others put the full court press on Manti. Clearly, he was something special. After ND’s 2008 season, Charlie Weis practically moved to Hawaii in his pursuit of the five-star recruit. Weis’s persistence paid off and on February 4, 2009 Te’o committed to ND.
And the rest is Blue and Gold history.
Te’o had an immediate impact as a freshman in South Bend with 63 tackles. He then progressed to a team leading 133 and 128 stops his sophomore and junior seasons. Both of those years he garnered all-American recognition and that set the table for his senior year, 2012.
Overall the 2012 Irish went undefeated through the regular season and by mid-November they were the #1 ranked team in the nation, and it was Manti’s team. Serving as captain, he was the face of the Irish on and off the field. He again led the the team in tackles this time with 103 and he notched a national best 7 interceptions. And the world took notice: Maxwell Award, Bednarik Award, The Nagurski Trophy, Butkus Award, The Walter Camp Award, unanimous 1st team all-American and second in the Heisman Trophy voting. He arguably became the most decorated player in Notre Dame history.
Unfortunately, Te’o faced national controversy after his senior season over a “cat fishing” internet scheme that he was victimized by. He faced an onslaught of media frenzy as a result, and did so with grace and sincerity. That scam and Te’o were the subject of a 2022 Netflix documentary for which Manti received widespread affirmation and empathy as an innocent victim of the scheme.
Te’o enjoyed a productive 8 year professional career with the Chargers, Saints and Bears. He officially retired last year and most recently was in the news for his efforts to rally support for the victims of the Maui wildfires tragedy.
Manti Te’o: Notre Dame 2009-2012, another Fighting Irish Preview ALL-TIME IRISH HERO.