Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Father Had Big Impact in Te'o's Football Success

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Father Had Big Impact in Te'o's Football Success

Article excerpt

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. | To understand Manti Te'o the football player, you first have to understand Manti Te'o the child.

Te'o, Notre Dame's highly-decorated senior linebacker, grew up in Laie, Hawaii, the son of a father who wanted him to play football. Before he had even taken up the game, Te'o was asked by his father to choose a number.

"Since I was 5 years old, I said five," Te'o said.

Brian Te'o, the father, didn't know enough about football. He set out to gain that knowledge so he could pass it on to his son.

"The father wasn't a coach, but would go to coaching clinics around to find out the small nuances and techniques to help teach Manti," said Bob Diaco, Notre Dame's defensive coordinator. "That kind of commitment, that kind of love, the culture that he's from, he brings all that to the position, to the unit, to the team, to the university."

Manti Te'o learned from his father's lessons and grew into a force as a high school football player. He was named 2008 High School Athlete of the Year by Sporting News and national defensive player of the year by USA Today.

Rated as one of the top prospects in the country, he made the decision to leave his island home and signed with Notre Dame. Over the course of the last four seasons, the 6-foot-2, 255-pound player has become perhaps the best defensive player in the country.

The senior linebacker finished second in balloting for the Heisman Trophy, the highest finish ever by a defensive player. He was named Walter Camp Play of the Year and won the Maxwell, Bednarik, Nagurski and Butkus awards as well as the Lott and Lombardi trophies.

And when it came time to collect all that hardware, Te'o the son invited his father along.

"I think any child's greatest accomplishment is when they see the joy in their parents' eyes and they're able to do something for them that they couldn't do before, and to repay them for the countless hours and days that they've sacrificed to make sure that you live your dream," Manti Te'o said. "I just happened to be the lucky guy to learn from him."

Like any son, of course, Manti was a little embarrassed by his father's actions on the awards circuit. …

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