The Pair from Punahou

Irish head coach Charlie Weis spoke with the media today regarding his 18-player freshmen class in preparation for tomorrow's freshmen media day. IrishEyes' first report details a pair of high school teammates making noise in August camp.

Midway through today's conference with Charlie Weis, the Irish head man was asked about a statement made during his early days with the Notre Dame program, and the need to establish a talent base from the bottom-up (freshmen through seniors).

"I think that's about where we are right now. I think the guys that get on the field now, as freshmen, get on the field because they're really good."

One of those "really good" players is sure to be linebacker Manti Te'o, whom Weis spoke at length about during a freshmen-only meeting with the media.

However, another of the handful of freshmen Weis lauded for early camp impressions might surprise you - at least if you fancy yourself a recruiting expert.

Weis Speaking About Wide Receiver Roby Toma

"He's been one of the guys in camp that everyone has noticed on a daily basis. Everyone thought that Roby was just a ‘throw-in' – he's the ‘Punahou (School) throw-in – But that's not the way it's working out.

"He's been competitive; he's been one of our better blockers at 110-pounds (jokingly) or whatever he ends up weighing. He gets open; he catches the ball; he runs really polished routes; he's a pain in the butt.

"And if you asked the defensive players they'd tell you the same thing."

Regarding the perception that Toma must first gain weight to contribute

"I don't think he needs to add weight to get on the field."

On withholding freshmen (in general) to preserve a possible fifth year of eligibility down the line

"For instance, a guy like Toma. Do we need to play Toma? No, we don't need to play him, but you might want to play him. So that's the type of conversation the staff needs to have – we have (these) conversations all the time but really on Sunday and on Monday, and by the time we finish those things will start to settle in on ‘what's the short-range plan; and what's the long-range plan?'"

The Other Guy from Punahou School

Weis on Manti Te'o and the status of his tender hamstring

"Oh he's not missing practice. He's just missing the first part of the practices (the media is generally allowed at practice for the first 20-25 minutes).

"(Just) because we're not allowing him to go full speed doesn't mean we're not allowing him to go. So as long as mentally he's not falling behind – then its just cardiovascular (in terms of his game readiness)."

Regarding Te'o and his assimilation to the college game

"We already knew that he had very good physical ability, so with any freshman coming in the biggest question is how quickly can they pick up mentally.

"I think what really helped him – because we can't meet with him as a coaching staff in the summer time – he told me that he got a lot of help from (5th-year senior linebacker and special teams captan) Scott Smith, who kind of pulled him aside and helped him simplify the reads and what we're doing on the defense; which allowed us by the time we got to camp to have a better understanding of what we're doing from Day One.

"With that being said, it's put him in a position where he can compete from playing time. He's been limited a little bit, we've (taken) precaution with a few of these guys (various hamstring issues have limited Kyle Rudolph, Darrin Walls, Armando Allen, and Te'o over the course of camp), but he'll be without limitations as we go forward to the two-week preparations for Nevada."

When asked to compare Te'o to previous freshmen linebackers he's seen

"I'm not used to comparing freshmen defensive players coming in and being in the picture (from that standpoint) but I can tell you – he's definitely in the picture. I expect to see him on the field in the opener. I don't think we'll be seeing him standing on the sideline very long."

Regarding Te'o's personality

"Well one of the things I like about him is I can bust his chops as a freshman. Because normally I'm a little sensitive about which (freshmen) I pick on.

"Today I told him (Te'o) it was good to see (Roby) Toma showin' up because at least one of the guys from Punahou was out there.

"You can take a shot at Manti like that because he knows how to take it.

"He's handled himself well. It's never easy when you come in and you're playing yourself up the depth chart, quickly. There's a lot of people that don't like it when a guy like that is breathing down their neck(s)."

At this rate, Irish linebackers might not have to look behind them to find Te'o by mid-September.


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