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He's Back!

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Irish Connection - Episode 28

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There Goes My Hero

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Te'o's Decision to Return About More Than Football

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South Bend Tribune - It wasn't until the morning after, when the tears of exhilaration started flowing one more time and Brian Te'o's cell phone started blowing up all over again, that it hit him.

No one in the Te'o family had actually called Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly directly late Sunday night to deliver the momentous news that Te'o's son, junior linebacker Manti Te'o, was returning to school for his senior year.

Half a continent away and perhaps intuitively, Kelly sensed that this was the way Te'o's decision, about a dip in the NFL Draft pool a year early, was headed in the past few weeks. A chain of calls through the sports information staff found Kelly elated but hardly stunned.

Word that Te'o and best friend since childhood, Irish wide receiver Robby Toma, had been apartment-hunting spilled out to the more majestic offices in the Guglielmino Athletics Complex, but that was all about logistics and contingencies, not about what was in Te'o's heart.

Which is exactly where the decision ended up being made.

"I'm so proud of him," said Brian Te'o, who watched his son make an 11th-hour switch from USC to Notre Dame based on a leap of faith -- a leap of, really, blind faith -- in February 2009.

"In the end, this decision had nothing to do with football, and that's the greatest thing. It's not about football. It's about being guided to a place that's special."

And coming full circle and redefining just who Manti Te'o is.

The Laie, Hawaii, product made the decision in Newport Beach, Calif., of all places, blurting out his intentions in the spur of the moment to his parents, a Fox Sports regional TV audience and the Twitter universe at an awards banquet for the Lott Impact Trophy, for which Manti was one of four finalists.

This, after Brian Te'o, citing all the financial evidence and professional advice Manti asked his parents to garner, had recommended his son go pro only hours earlier. This after his 19-year-old sister, BrieAnne, days before, told Manti in a phone call to follow his dream.

"She was at a bus stop after class heading home," Brian related, "and Manti called her and asked, 'What should I do?'

"She said, 'Wasn't it your dream to go to the NFL? Then go.' And that got Manti thinking.

"But when he got to Newport Beach this weekend, and he talked to my wife and I, he said, 'The NFL is my goal, not my dream. My dream is to have an impact on people. I think I'm doing that, and I'm not finished yet. All the trips to the pediatric hospital, to the Homeless Center. I'm not done yet."

One More Year! One More Year!

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Daily Dish - 12.12.11

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russellcarter.jpg - Notre Dame has launched a new web site highlighting the Notre Dame Summer Sports Camps as part of its Youth Sports and Community Programs initiative ... the site ( features online registration and a welcome note from Irish head coaches ... the site also includes a blog, the ability to order camp photos and sign up for a camp newsletter, plus links to camp material posted on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter ... Notre Dame currently offers men's camps for baseball, basketball, football, golf, hockey, lacrosse and soccer; women's camps for basketball, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball and volleyball; plus co-ed camps in diving, fencing, swimming, tennis and track and field/cross country.

- Former Notre Dame men's lacrosse All-America goalie Scott Rodgers has been named to the U.S. National Team roster for January's Champion Challenge ... the Fighting Irish will face Rodgers and the U.S. squad for the second straight season at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. ... this year's game will take place at 4 p.m. (ET) on Jan. 28.

- Competing in the NBA Development League are former Irish players Tory Jackson (with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants) and Russell Carter (with the Iowa Energy) ... also in the league is Joe Harden who started his career with Notre Dame but finished at Cal-Davis (he's with the Dakota Wizards).

- Kevin Dugan, manager of youth and community programs in the Notre Dame department of athletics, has received a special invitation from the Republic of South Sudan Embassy to meet H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, president of South Sudan ... President Kiir will be in Washington, D.C., next week to meet President Barack Obama ... this will be Kiir's first visit to the USA, since South Sudan became the world's newest nation this past July ... Dugan visited South Sudan this past summer to organize a Playing for Peace basketball festival in partnership with the South Sudan Basketball Federation and the Commission for Demilitarization and Reintegration of Child Soldiers.

- Patricia Bellia, chair of the University of Notre Dame's Faculty Board on Athletics and its NCAA faculty athletics representative, was the surprise recipient of an honorary monogram Friday night at the Notre Dame Football Awards Show ... Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick made the introduction and was joined in the presentation by Monogram Club executive director Beth Hunter and current Monogram Club president Dick Nussbaum ... a professor of law and Notre Dame Presidential Fellow in the Notre Dame Law School, Bellia is in her third year as the chair of the Faculty Board and the University's NCAA faculty athletics representative.


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Following Flynt - Irish Around The League

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Photo courtesy of Hanisch/US Presswire

It was a quiet Week 14 around the NFL for former Notre Dame players, with one exception at Lambeau Field.

Ryan Grant ('05) tallied 10 carries for 85 yards and had one catch for 13 yards. More importantly, Grant had two rushing touchdowns, including a 47-yard run on Green Bay's first possession.

The touchdown was Grant's longest run since Dec. 2009 and his first score since the 2009 regular season finale against Arizona. Grant's breakout performance of the season could not have come at a better time for the Packers as they continue their pursuit of perfection. With key receiver Greg Jennings potentially sidelined due to a knee injury, Grant and the rushing game may be able to take some pressure off of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Grant's second touchdown came in the second quarter on a six-yard run that extended the lead to 31-0.

Anthony Fasano ('06) had three catches for 56 yards, but Miami fell to Philadelphia, 26-10. His college teammates Derek Landri ('06) and Trevor Laws ('07) had one tackle each for the Eagles.

Tom Zbikowski ('07) had one tackle in Baltimore's 24-10 over Indianapolis.

Golden Tate and Seattle will host St. Louis in tonight's Monday Night Football action.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Te'o To Return for Senior Year

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28cdjf.jpg Chicago Tribune - As he began to contemplate dueling futures at Notre Dame and in the NFL, Manti Te'o was advised by his father to make a list of what was important to him. It would offer some sort of traction in the looming stay-or-go clamor.

Ultimately, it brought Te'o back for his senior year.

Te'o announced Sunday he will return to Notre Dame for 2012, instantly equipping the Irish to handle a buzz saw of a schedule next fall in the most impactful moment of the offseason.

Te'o arrived Saturday for the Lott IMPACT TrophyCQ awards banquet in Newport Beach, Calif. He met with his parents, who flew in from Hawaii, and discussed the decision. On Sunday, Te'o finalized his choice and, surprisingly, announced it at the banquet.

According to the Twitter feed of Fox Sports reporter Lisa Horne, Te'o said this: "I feel I'm not done at Notre Dame."

"Just a month or two ago, I felt Manti was really valuing being a professional," Te'o's father, Brian, told the Tribune in a phone interview late Sunday. "I thought that was at the top of the list and he was going to do as much as he could to do his part at Notre Dame. I thought he was at the stage of moving on. Long story short, essentially, we had a really nice talk with him last night.

"We had a long three hour talk with him about where he felt his priorities where. We were going to use his list of priorities to start canceling out the pros and cons from the list we created. In a nutshell, Manti told me and my wife that he felt he came to Notre Dame - and I'm going to reiterate exactly what he said three years ago - he was led there to do something. He just feels there are so many unfinished things left there."

The Te'o camp preferred to have a general idea of a decision before the Irish's Dec. 29 Champs Sports Bowl appearance. The family gathered the requisite information about where Te'o might be selected - and Te'o asked for an underclassman evaluation from the NFL - and the results were unsurprising.

Te'o is the No. 13 overall draft prospect according to ESPN analyst Mel Kiper, Jr., and the family's research had him slotted anywhere from the mid-to-late first round to the worst case of the second round. And, as a result of that, Brian Te'o advised his son to declare for the draft when Manti Te'o asked for his opinion Saturday.

"One of inspiring things he shared with us was, what can he live with if decided to go pro?" Brian Te'o said. "Can he live with not having the memory of his senior season? Could I be satisfied with millions and live without the memory? Or can I live without the millions and have the memories?

"He goes, 'I can do that. I can live with my career possible ending at Notre Dame.' If he leaves this life in general, he'll know he gave Notre Dame everything he had. He felt he didn't do that yet. He really hasn't given Notre Dame everything he's got."

Indeed, this was not a foregone conclusion either way until recently. Te'o had planned for next year's off-campus housing with three teammates, a source said, but Brian Te'o said his son was still contemplating and praying on the decision for weeks.

Then, by the time he met with his parents Saturday night, Te'o knew.

"It was clear to me where his heart was," Brian Te'o said. "It wasn't a difficult decision. There was more difficulty in trying to explain to Mom and Dad what he decided. If there was struggle, it was more a distraction, he said. People were telling him you should leave, you should stay -- he just felt conflicted. A lot of people he looked up to (were) telling him to go two different ways."

Notre Dame confirmed Te'o's return late Sunday but did not comment about the team leader in tackles (115), tackles-for-loss (13) and sacks (4.5) in 2011.

On Sunday night, Te'o was set for a red-eye return flight. A final exam awaited Monday. But after unloading this weight, he probably slept easy anyway.

"He wanted to be a senior," Brian Te'o said. "More than anything he wanted to walk around that stadium one last time, whether it was in pads or in crutches. He said he will walk and give his final goodbyes. He couldn't see himself declaring for NFL and not having that opportunity to say goodbye to Notre Dame.

"From listening to him (Saturday) night, that boy truly loves Notre Dame. He truly loves Notre Dame, despite all the shenanigans that may have happened in this past season, and some of that pointed directly to him -- it didn't matter to him. I was very proud at him for that."

2011 Football Awards Show

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Friday was a great night and a celebration of the 2011 season and senior class at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. Check out this YouTube playlist or visit the insideNDfootball YouTube channel to select individual videos from the Football Awards Show.

Here's a complete list of the winners:

Scout Team Player of the Year: Everett Golson (Offense), Brandon Newman (Defense)
Newcomer of the Year: Jonas Gray (Offense), Dan Fox (Defense)
Special Teams Player of the Year: Austin Collinsworth
Nick Pietrosante Award: Harrison Smith
Moose Krause Award: Darius Fleming
Guardian Life Insurance Guardian of the Year Award: Zack Martin
Back of the Year: Robert Blanton
Rockne Student-Athlete Award: Manti Te'o
Next Man In Award: Robby Toma
Most Valuable Player: Michael Floyd

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Event Calendar

November 23
8:00 PM
Valparaiso, Ind. (Athletics-Recreation Center)

Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND
Live Stats
November 25
7:00 PM
Syracuse, N.Y.

Live Stats
November 26
6:30 PM
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

November 27
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

November 27
3:15 PM
Freeport, Bahamas (St. Georges High School)

Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND
November 27
1:00 PM
Boston College
Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Live Stats
November 27
7:35 PM
Notre Dame, Ind. (Compton Family Ice Arena)

November 28
4:30 PM
Stanford, Calif.

Game Week Central
November 28
Louisiana Tech or UCLA
Freeport, Bahamas (St. Georges High School)

Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND
November 28
7:35 PM
Notre Dame, Ind. (Compton Family Ice Arena)

November 29
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

November 29
2:00 PM
Maryland Round of 16
Notre Dame, Ind. (Alumni Stadium)

St. Joseph Health System Medifast Delta Canon Visit South Bend Mishawaka