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Te’o set to return for senior season

Dec 11, 2011, 10:51 PM EDT

manti-teo getty images

Manti Te’o didn’t win the Lott Impact Award Sunday night in Newport Beach, with Boston College’s Luke Kuechly receiving the prize. But Te’o did steal just about all the headlines, when he announced that he’d be returning for his senior season at Notre Dame.

The Irish’s All-American linebacker, who many thought would be destined for the first round of the NFL Draft, announced late Sunday night that he was returning for one last season at Notre Dame, returning a critical piece to the Irish defense.

“I feel I’m not done at Notre Dame,” Te’o said, as reported by Fox Sports’ Lisa Horne. “I’ll be coming back to Notre Dame.”

For anyone that’s been listening, Te’o has long proclaimed he’d be playing four seasons in South Bend, first announcing the plan when he decided to delay his Mormon mission and stay at Notre Dame after his freshman season. But with Te’o submitting his paperwork for the NFL’s draft advisory board this month, there were big worries across the Irish fan base that the team would need to replace their leading defender.

Those worries can’t be put to rest, as Notre Dame’s sports information director Brian Hardin confirmed the news minutes after the original word broke via Twitter.

This is the second year in a row where Brian Kelly’s biggest recruit wasn’t an incoming freshman, but rather getting a final year from the Irish’s best player. Last year, Kelly and his coaching staff took to re-recruiting Michael Floyd, pulling out all the stops to get the wide receiver to return, and Floyd turned in a year that certainly helped his draft status. Te’o cut the anticipation short this year, announcing over a month early that he’ll be back, likely feeling that he’s got something left to prove in an Irish uniform.

Te’o leads the team in tackles, sacks, and tackles-for-loss.

  1. ndfanwabashman - Dec 11, 2011 at 10:57 PM

    I’m very happy and proud that Te’o is returning. I hope this decision is not in vain, and that the other players, coaches, and we as fans, do our best to make next year memorable for him.

    Go Irish, beat everyone.

  2. papadec - Dec 11, 2011 at 10:59 PM

    HOT DAMN – there’s my Christmas present!!!!!!! Thank you Manti.

  3. grantlandrice - Dec 11, 2011 at 11:05 PM

    Really great news! He will be one of the best linebackers ever at Notre Dame and that’s saying something – he should come close to 400 tackles for his career. What about Tyler Eifert?

  4. ndrocks2 - Dec 12, 2011 at 12:08 AM


  5. trbowman - Dec 12, 2011 at 12:45 AM

    • irishbornraised - Dec 12, 2011 at 2:48 AM

      you my friend, are awesome

    • irishbornraised - Dec 12, 2011 at 12:30 PM

      lol, this is hilarious cause drama actually roots for ND

  6. 9irish - Dec 12, 2011 at 6:42 AM

    You know, I’m really not surprised. I think there is alot of “unfinished business” lingering on players minds right now. Damn great news
    (@trbowman…I couldn’t have put it better myself!)

  7. gtizzo - Dec 12, 2011 at 7:23 AM

    Brain Kelly gets a commit from the biggest player that ND needs next year. Manti coming back means an anchor for that LB core that should be pretty solid next season. The leaves the only question mark in the secondary.

  8. bionicpeter - Dec 12, 2011 at 7:51 AM

    Manti comes from a loving family who believe in finishing your commitment. He has committed to ND for four years and in return is getting a first class education. ND granted him an exclusion to take a Moron sabbatical during his four years to satisfy his Mormon beliefs. It was his choice to forgo. It says a lot about his character and moral beliefs. Congratulations to Manti for his efforts both on and off the field.

  9. kiopta1 - Dec 12, 2011 at 8:00 AM

    Great news!

  10. bernhtp - Dec 12, 2011 at 9:20 AM


  11. Jennifer - Dec 12, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    “Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus!”

  12. oldestguard - Dec 12, 2011 at 12:58 PM

    I like everything about this young man.

    He’s destined for greatness on and off the gridiron.

  13. runners00 - Dec 12, 2011 at 2:08 PM

    Great news. Personally, I think any kid who can make millions should not be fjudged negatively for leaving so that he can make his millions. This is especially true in football, a sport that is as violent a sport as there is.

    That said, I’m glad that Manti is returning. He’s a big-time athlete who will benefit from another year in South Bend. He’ll earn a degree, a distinction that many NFL players don’t earn. He’ll get another year against stiff competition that is age-appropriate. It seems to me that the reason so many early entrants don’t pan out is that they’re not ready to fight against grown men. I’m sorry but guys like Ray Lewis and Jahri Evans are grown-ups. They’re big and strong and tough and they’re improving all the time. I’m not saying that there isn’t a college athlete that can stay with them. There are a few — but most aren’t ready.

    It’s just like that statistic that David Brooks mentioned over the summer. Nineteen percent of Americans think they’re either in the top 1% of earners or will be in the top 1% of earners. Most fail to understand that those who are in the top 1% actually make around $1.1 million per year – -a figure that’s beyond what the vast, vast majority of us will pull down in a year. Many of these athletes are the same way: they’re going to be the next Julius Peppers. Agents tell them they’re going to be — but reality says otherwise. It’s a brutally difficult league where speed and size combine to make it tough on everyone — even the super-gifted who work hard — like T’eo.

    I have no idea whether Manti considered this as he decided to return to Notre Dame. But I’m glad that there is someone — some very talented and fast and strong and athletic guy — who recognized that staying a fourth year and getting a degree and working on skills on and off the field is a good long-term approach.

  14. pudgalvin - Dec 12, 2011 at 7:58 PM

    Me thinks he didn’t get a first round grade. I’m certainly no expert, but I think at best he would have gone in the lower third of the first round. Still nothing to sneeze at, but he’s not great in coverage, doesn’t have great speed, and still misses too many tackles. Tack on a really poor game against USC and a subpar game against Stanford, he’s probably looking at late 1st/early 2nd. But he’s still really good and I’m thrilled to have him back.

  15. barneysbullet - Dec 12, 2011 at 9:36 PM

    Good on you T’eo! LETS DO THIS THING!!!

    We Are ND 😉

  16. rcali - Dec 13, 2011 at 9:49 PM

    Time to cash that NFL paycheck T.

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