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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Manti-mania

Tony Krausz
The Journal Gazette

Notre Dame freshman linebacker Manti Te'o has established himself as a guy who plays with passion and intensity in the Irish's first five games.

The native of Laie, Hawaii, has also established a reputation as quite the storyteller.

"I got a chance to hang out with Manti and kind of room with him in different situations, and if there's anything that you don't ant to have happen, you don't want to have him start telling you a story," linebacker Scott Smith said. "We've just been sitting around talking, and all of a sudden he'll get into one of his Hawaii, football or Samoan stories, and next thing you know it's about 20 minutes later and he's still going. When he gets on a roll, he definitely gets on a roll. That just kind of shows him just wanting to be able to share his experiences and just real excited and proud about being from Hawaii and things like that.

"Just one of those things you just kind of have to sit down, and if he ends up going for too long, I've had to kind of cut it short or tell him to wrap it up. But there was always a continuation either the next day or the next night so I was sure to get the full story."

What isn't a tall tale is Te'o living up to his billing.

The freshman has 16 tackles, two for loss and a sack this season.

"Manti is a tremendous athlete, football player," senior safety Kyle McCarty said. "He's got all the tools to be a great player. He's got great football instinct. So he's doing very well for us this year. Obviously it's tough for a freshman, any freshman, to come in and play, but I think Manti, when the coaches have called on him to get on the field has done a nice job for us."

Te'o has also done a nice job blending in with his teammates and adjusting to life in South Bend and at Notre Dame.

"As far as I know he's handled it very well," McCarthy said. "He's a great kid to be around. He's always upbeat. He's always got a smile on his face and someone that you like to associate yourself with. I'm very happy he's part of our team, and I hope he feels the same way. "

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