Brian Kelly thinks Teo is Heisman material
Posted: 10/02/2012 at 1:26 pm
By: Rachel Terlep
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Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o (5) reaches back to try and tackle Purdue’s Akeem Shavers (24) during first half action at Notre Dame Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012. Notre Dame won on the final drive with a field goal at the end of regulation. (Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
The Notre Dame linebacker had lost both his grandmother and girlfriend within a few hours of each other just days before the Michigan State game on Sept. 15. Te’o chose to play against both Michigan State and Michigan the following week, leaving last weekend’s bye his first chance to fly home since their deaths.
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said Te’o and his best friend and teammate, Robby Toma, traveled back to their native state together.
“They were able to bring some closure and move on to the next challenge,” Kelly said of Te’o and Toma.
Toma and Te’o graduated from the same high school in Honolulu and came to Notre Dame together as freshmen.
“They leaned on each other pretty heavily, especially these last couple weeks,” Kelly said of the duo.
Te’o is back in South Bend and preparing for Notre Dame’s Shamrock Series game against Miami on Saturday. Though Kelly says he tries to keep the buzz and hype away from his team, he believes the talk around Te’o’s chance at the Heisman Trophy is warranted.
Kelly recognizes that the award typically looks for players with impressive offensive statistics, but Te’o makes a strong case “if you’re looking for the best or one of the best football players that impacts his program.”
“Heisman Trophy, MVP, top collegiate player, we think he fits those categories,” Kelly said of Te’o.