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Monday, August 29, 2011

Notre Dame lineback Manti Te’o has first-round potential but dreams bigger

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Anyone worrying about Manti Te’o becoming distracted by his NFL future heading into his junior season at Notre Dame underestimates the tao of Te’o.
The All-American candidate doesn’t sit around dreaming about the NFL.
His dreams are bigger than that.
“Ever since I was young I understood the whole meaning of life isn’t how much money you can accumulate, how much fame you experience, it’s how many lives you touch, how many faces you bring smiles to,” the linebacker said when asked how he envisions himself in 20 years. “I see myself back in Hawaii doing something in the community to improve the lives of young children. Everything I’ve done is to prepare myself to give back.”
Notre Dame lacks depth at all the offensive skill positions and is so thin at running back that a pair of freshmen can expect meaningful carries. Converted running back Theo Riddick is still learning how to play receiver. The offense is led by Dayne Crist, who has suffered two major knee injuries the past two seasons.
There are no such concerns for a defense that should rank among the nation’s best. The heart of that unit is Te’o. The 6-foot-2, 255- pounder is projected as a high first-round draft pick should he chose to go pro after this season, yet when he talks about making an impact, it has nothing to do with the team-high 133 tackles he made last season.
“Being a leader,” he said, when asked how he can improve. “Being that constant force out there, that guy that no matter what’s happening on the field or going on on the sidelines, my teammates can turn to me and I can pick them up. I just want to be that guy they can trust and just try and have an influence on them they haven’t had. What I’m trying to say is, I want to have an impact on them beyond football.”
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