Manti Te'o proves to be as unique of a student-athlete as they come

His impact was felt from his very first play.

Manti Te'o arrived on the scene in 2009 and set the tone for his stay at Notre Dame by picking up a tackle on that first play against Nevada.

Manti's impact was felt even greater earlier this month when he announced he was returning to Notre Dame for his senior season.

"Overjoyed," defensive coordinator Bob Diaco said of his reaction when he found out the news. "Absolutely elated to have another opportunity to be around him and be with him."

Te'o is a defensive coordinator's dream. But Diaco is quick to point out its not just the player he views as the top linebacker in the country that he's excited to see return. it's the person too.

"As high a character of a young man, as compassionate, passionate and understanding and patient," Diaco said of Te'o. "He's got a nice combination of aggresiveness and machismo. He's a rare young man."

As unique of a student-athlete Notre Dame's had a long time, a man as connected to his fate as they come. A Mormon from Hawaii, Te'o turned down the lure of the NFL and the guaranteed money for something he felt was worth a whole lot more.

"Not being all spiritual and everything, but one day we're not all going to be here," Te'o explains. "One day we are all going to pass on. I'm not going to be able take a cadillac, I'm not going to be able to take a big mansion and all that stuff---the only thing I'm going to have are the memories I have here at Notre Dame with my family back at home. Millions of dollars can't buy those."

And what makes Notre Dame so special is so clear for number five.

The people--my teammates," Manti says. "If it wasn't for my teammates, I wouldn't be here. My teammates make it fun. As everyone knows there is not much to do around here in South Bend. When you have a group guys--'hey bro come over to the house, let's have a barbeque. Let's do something, let's go to the movies.' Those are the times."

And the times he hasn't yet experienced, those a year older have and he wants to as well.

"Talking to Michael Floyd on his senior walk, I told him when you go out there---remember how it feels. I'm going to ask you a question after the game. And at the end of the game I asked him if it was worth it? And he was like, 'there's nothing like it.' That's something I want to experience along with all the experiences you get to have when you are a senior in college. You are only a senior once in college. You can't re-live that."

Notre Dame and Florida State battle in the Champs Sports Bowl Thursday at 5:30 in Orlando.


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