Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Manti Te'o Not Leaving For Mission Yet

 University of Notre Dame freshman linebacker Manti Te'o has decided he will return to campus for the spring semester and delay his mission trip for at least one year and possibly until later in his life.

Te'o will continue at Notre Dame during his sophomore year and will be a member of the Irish football team in 2010.

"This was probably the biggest decision that I¹I've had to face in my entire life," Te'o said in a release issued by the University. "I knew the impact of my decision could have a positive influence on those who follow me and those who watch what I do. I always want to have a positive influence on them. I just thought that I was sent to Notre Dame for a purpose and that is a purpose I have to devote to."

Te'o is a member of the Church of Latter-day Saints and expects to take a mission at some point, but he's not sure when.

"I¹m not sure if I¹m going to take it after next year or later on in life," Te'o said.

There is no age limit as to when Te'o needs to take the mission.
Te'o ranked fourth on the team in 2009 with 63 tackles including 5.5 tackles for loss, one sack and added one pass breakup. He played in all 12 games and started nine contests.

The 63 tackles recorded by Te'o were the most by a Notre Dame freshman since 1975 and the third most all time by an Irish freshman (Bob Golic, 82 tackles in 1975; Ross Browner, 68 tackles in 1973).

More importantly than the success on the field, Te'o says the it's the University life that influenced him to stay at Notre Dame.

"I think it¹s the connections I have been able to make with people and the ability I have to meet people and influence them for good," Te'o said. "I think that is a big factor in it."

"The coaching change didn't¹t have a factor. Football wasn't¹t a factor. It was strictly a spiritual thing for me."

In fact, Te'o says he has to to speak in-depth about his mission trip possibilities with new head coach Brian Kelly.

"I got to talk to him on two occasions and he¹s a really good guy," Te'o said of Kelly. "We talked about football and talked about life in general.
I respect him and have trust in him and I think he¹ll do a great job leading our team."

Te'o became a full-time starter for Notre Dame in the fifth game of the season against Washington and he ranked second on the Irish with 57 tackles over the final eight games (Safety Kyle McCarthy had 64 tackles in that stretch).

Te'o recorded 10 tackles against both Washington and Stanford and totaled nine tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss and one pass breakup against Boston College.

A native of Laie, Hawaii, Te'o is enrolled in Notre Dame¹s First Year of Studies program.

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