MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te’o has kept himself quite busy since the Irish’s final game against USC. From the Heisman Trophy ceremony to various other awards, Te’o has crisscrossed the country before ending up in Miami for the Bowl Championship Series title game.
Te’o was the runner-up to quarterback Johnny Manziel for the 2012 Heisman Memorial Trophy. But that was just one of the awards Te’o managed to capture as a senior. The star linebacker also won the Maxwell Award, Chuck Bednarik Award, Bronco Nagurski Trophy, Butkus Award, Lombardi Award and the Walter Camp Award.
Te’o has played in 50 career games with the Fighting Irish and as a senior pulled down 103 total tackles, including 34 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 7 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 fumbles recovered. He also added 17 passes defensed and 12 quarterback hurries in 2012.
That hasn’t stopped Te’o in his preparation for the biggest game of his life, so far. Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco said that Te’o has worked harder in the last week of practice than he has all season.
The Alabama Crimson Tide, Notre Dame’s opponent in the BCS Championship Game, will have to game plan to stop Te’o on defense just like they would any of the Irish’s offensive stars. The Tide want to run the football and keeping Te’o off running backs Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon will be the job of the Tide’s massive offensive line.
If Te’o can make game-changing plays like he all season against the Tide, not only will it give Notre Dame a good chance of winning the national championship; it will also boost Te’o’s stock as he prepares for the NFL Draft in April.
But for Te’o, only one thing is on his mind this week in South Florida, hoisting the crystal ball trophy as college football’s national champion.