NOTRE DAME, Ind. – University of Notre Dame junior linebacker Manti Te’o (Laie, Hawaii/Punahou) will return for his senior season, Te’o announced Sunday night at the Lott IMPACT Trophy banquet in Newport Beach, Calif.
The 6-2, 255-pounder was a finalist for the Butkus Award and Lott Trophy in 2011 and earlier this week was named to the Walter Camp All-America second team. A design major, Te’o was selected to the Capital One Academic All-America second team this week.
“This was a tough decision, and I found myself praying about it often,” Te’o said. "Ultimately, I really want to experience my senior year at Notre Dame. The happiest moments so far in my life have come when I am spending time with people I love. I wanted to spend another year with my teammates and the coaches on our team. I don’t think any sum of money can replace the memories I can create in my senior year.
“Graduating from Notre Dame is really important to me. Many people encouraged me to go to the NFL because I could always earn my diploma later in life. If I did that, though, I would not have the chance for the same experiences that are ahead of me in my senior year, and I would not have finished at Notre Dame with the guys I started with and care so much about. When I weighed all the factors that went into this decision, it just felt right to stay at Notre Dame.”
“This is not only a great day for the University of Notre Dame and our football team, it is also a great day for college football,” head coach Brian Kelly said. “Manti is an outstanding representative of our program and university—and he is also a terrific role model for young kids who idolize college football players. He chose Notre Dame in the beginning for many reasons that had nothing to do with football. He wanted to challenge himself academically, continue his spiritual development and be active in our community. In his three years here he has proven to be a tremendous representative of Notre Dame and our football program. He has been a leader of our team the last two years and he definitely makes our program, University and college football better. In my mind he is the best linebacker in the nation—and he is an even better person away from the game.”
Te’o leads the Irish with 115 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and four and a half sacks. His 311 career tackles rank eighth in Notre Dame history.