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Friday, November 14, 2008

An All-American in truest sense

By Wes Nakama

HAU'ULA — The nation's No. 1-ranked college linebacker prospect, Punahou School senior Manti Te'o, received his first official All-America honor of the season Tuesday night.

It came with letters and certificates of commendation, from U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, Mayor Mufi Hannemann.

But this honor had absolutely nothing to do with football, and everything to do with what kind of person Te'o is beneath the jersey and shoulder pads.

"On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country ... ," Te'o said, reciting a pledge immediately after receiving his Eagle Scout badge in front of family and friends at the Hau'ula Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "To help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight."

Te'o may be the most heavily recruited Hawai'i high school football player ever — he had more than 30 offers from some of the top programs in the country — but it's not just because he is 6 feet 2, 233 pounds, covers 40 yards in 4.55 seconds and has tremendous explosiveness and pursuit.

It's also because he is a strong student in the classroom (3.2 grade point average), devout church member and an extremely personable, respectful young man.

"He's a gem, he has the total package," Hannemann said. "Whoever lands him as a recruit, that school will not just be getting a great football player ... they'll be getting a great person."

Continue to Honolulu Advertiser

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