2009 Prospect: Manti Teo

When schools are starting rate the top linebackers in the 2009 recruiting class, they have to start with junior Manti Teo. The standout linebacker from Punahou High School (Honolulu, Hawaii) already has over 10 scholarship offers and one of them is from Notre Dame.

Notre Dame doesn't travel to Hawaii to recruit many players, but when there is a really good one, the Irish will do their best to bring that prospect to campus. Junior Manti Teo (6-foot-2, 230 pounds) is that kind of player and the Notre Dame coaching staff has already extended him a scholarship offer.

"Notre Dame hasn't been in touch with me but they have been in touch with my coaches," Teo responded when asked if Notre Dame had been recruiting him. "They started recruiting me the spring of this year. Coach Ianello came down and looked at me and one of my teammates.

"They had sent me about three envelopes. They were the regular things about their upcoming games and stuff like that. My coach said that he had been talking to some of the coaches, as well as coach Weis. That's all I really know and then one day this big envelope came in that had a big Notre Dame emblem on it and it was my offer letter. I was like whoa. I was shocked. There haven't been many athletes from Hawaii that have received a scholarship from Notre Dame. I just feel very humbled and honored to be one of the few athletes from Hawaii to have received a scholarship offer from Notre Dame."

Teo doesn't know a lot about Notre Dame and it's football program, but he knows enough to be interested in learning more.

"I know they have a strong tradition in football," Teo explained. "I've seen pictures and I've heard stories about how beautiful the campus is, and I when I see the pictures of the campus I can't believe how beautiful it is. It's a great school academically, and they've had great people that have gone to school there. Their record this year doesn't really reflect the tradition that they have and reflect what their potential is. Everyone goes through a slump from time to time. What matters is that you try to get back up and improve from there. I think coach Weis will bring the program back up to where it was last year.

"I've heard good things about coach Weis; his love and passion for the game, his ability to take players and get them to the next level. One of my favorite players on their team is No. 9, Tom Zbikowski. He's one of my favorite players to watch, because he just keeps going and he's a hard hitter and I like to watch players that hit hard."

While the Irish have caught Manti's attention, there are a number of other schools that have also sent him a scholarship offer.

"USC, UCLA, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Stanford, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, BYU, Hawaii, and Tennessee," Teo replied when asked about his offer list. "I've received offer letters from some other schools, but I haven't spoken with all the coaches, like Florida and Oklahoma State. I think that's about it. The last time my dad counted, I think I had about 16 offers.

"To be honest, it was a dream of mine to go through this process, because I've seen others go through it when I was young. Everybody from around here usually goes to Utah or stays here at home, so when the letters started coming in and I saw the variety of schools that were showing interest it was a dream come true for me. It's a blessing for me. I've very humbled that such prestigious colleges are coming after me. At the same time I have to stay grounded and continue to show the coaches what they've been looking for in me."

"Schools are recruiting me to play linebacker," Manti explained. "I think the difference [between me and other players] is my passion for the game. I'm always striving to be the best and I'm always trying to climb up the latter I'm always saying to myself that there is always someone better, and that I have to work harder to get faster and stronger. I have to keep on working and building and building. It's my passion for the game that carries me through."

Manti started playing football when he was eight years old and his talent was evident from early on. Once he secured a starting position at Punahou as a sophomore, he was a marked man.

"I often feel greedy, because I always want to be in the play. I always want to make the play. I always want to make the play by myself. I want to make the highlight play. This year has more difficult than last year, because I think my name is out there. The double and triple-teams started coming. I still get in on all the plays, but it takes more. Like I said before, I'm greedy about getting to the play and making the tackle.

"I'm the kind of player that loves to hit. I like to make the big hit. A coach mentioned to me at a camp that I like to do the ordinary thing in an extraordinary way. I'm a sideline to sideline type of guy. I play outside linebacker in our scheme. You have to chase the play all the way to the other sideline if you want to be in on every play. It's a game of inches and I play inch by inch. I have a long way to go and it will be a big moment when I get to college."

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