American Football Database
American Football Database
Manti Te'o
Te'o during 2010 game against USC.
Notre Dame Fighting IrishNo. 5
Linebacker Senior
Major: Graphic Design
Date of birth: (1991-01-26) January 26, 1991 (age 30)
Place of birth: Laie, Hawaii
Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) Weight: 241 lb (109 kg; 17 st 3 lb)
Career history
High school: Honolulu (HI) Punahou
Bowl games
Career highlights and awards
Stats at

Manti Malietau Louis Te'o (/ˈmæn.t ˈt./; born January 26, 1991)[2] is an American collegiate football player. He is a linebacker at the University of Notre Dame. Growing up on the island of Oahu, he was one of the most decorated high school athletes in Hawaii's history. In 2008, Te'o won the inaugural high school Butkus Award, while also being named Sporting News High School Athlete of the Year. At the end of 2012, he won eight postseason awards, becoming one of the most decorated collegiate football players of all time.

One of the enduring stories of Notre Dame's 2012 season was Te'o's strong play following the death of his grandmother and girlfriend, as well as his emergence as a Heisman Trophy candidate. In January 2013, the sports blog Deadspin revealed that the existence and death of his girlfriend had been faked. An acquaintance of Te'o confessed to orchestrating a hoax that lured Te'o into an online relationship with a nonexistent woman.

Early life and prep school

Te'o was born in Laie, Hawaii, on January 26, 1991, of Samoan ancestry.[3] He is the son of Brian and Ottilia Te'o and has 5 siblings: sisters BrieAnne, Tiare, Eden and Maya and brother Manasseh.[4]

In 2006, Te'o played for Punahou School, a private co-ed institution in Manoa, Honolulu, where he had also attended middle school. Te'o began his varsity career that year with stellar play that won him selection to the second-team all-state roster as a sophomore.

As a junior in 2007, Te'o was named the state defensive player of the year by the Honolulu Advertiser and the Gatorade state player of the year. He received first-team all-state honors while totaling 90 tackles and five sacks on defense and 400 rushing yards and ten touchdowns as a running back.[5] Te'o drew considerable attention from colleges and recruiters in the process.

Te'o came into his senior year as one of the most celebrated players and recruits both on the state and national levels, landing on a number of national top ten recruiting lists before the start of the season. He received offers from over 30 college programs. During his senior year, Te'o helped lead Punahou to its first-ever state championship in football during the 2008 season. He amassed 129 tackles, including 11 sacks, forced three fumbles, tipped four passes and totaled 19 quarterback hurries. On offense at running back, Te'o rushed for 176 yards (5.3 yards per carry) and four touchdowns and had three receptions, two for touchdowns. He also had three interceptions, returning one 49 yards for a touchdown. He also returned a blocked punt for a touchdown.

He received his second straight Gatorade state player of the year award for his play during the season and was named first-team all-state and the state defensive player of the year for the second straight season. Te'o was such a force that The Honolulu Advertiser considered just naming him the overall state player of the year.[6] He is regarded as one of the most highly recruited athletes, both in football and for any sport, in the history of the state of Hawaii.

After the year, Te'o participated in the Hawaii Prep Classic and the Under Armour All-America Game, choosing to participate in the latter over the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.[7] Te'o played in the Under Armour game along with his high school turned collegiate teammate, wide receiver Robby Toma.

Prep awards and accomplishments


In 2008, Te'o won the inaugural Butkus Award at the high school level, awarded to the best prep linebacker in the United States.[8] He was also named the 2008 Sporting News High School Athlete of the Year, becoming the first person from the state of Hawaii and the first athlete of Polynesian descent to receive the award.[9] USA Today named Te'o the national Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-American. He is only the third high school player from Hawaii to be named to the USA Today All-American team and the second player from Punahou to earn such a distinction since 1990.[10] Te'o was also named to the 2009 Parade All-American team as well.[11] On January 10, 2010, Te'o was named the Hawaii State Defensive Player of the Decade (2000–2009) by the Honolulu Advertiser.[12]


In high school, Te'o had a 3.5 grade-point average and did volunteer work with the Shriners Hospital, Head Start preschool program, Hawai'i Food Bank and Special Olympics. Te'o also became an Eagle Scout in November 2008.[13] Te'o is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church/ Mormon Church).[14]

List of prep awards

  • Hawaii State Defensive Player of the Decade (2000–2009)
  • 2008 Butkus Award (HS)
  • 2008 Sporting News High School Athlete of the Year
  • 2008 USA Today National Defensive Player of the Year
  • 2009 PARADE All-American
  • 2008 Gatorade Hawaii Football Player of the Year
  • 2007 Gatorade Hawaii Football Player of the Year
  • 2008 Hawaii State Defensive Player of the Year
  • 2007 Hawaii State Defensive Player of the Year
  • 2008 Punahou Aina Award
  • 2009 All-American Donny Martin Award

College recruitment and rankings

Te'o committed to the University of Notre Dame on National Signing Day, February 4, 2009.[15] He chose the Fighting Irish, coached by Charlie Weis, over BYU and USC. Te'o is the first USA Today Defensive Player of the Year to commit to the Irish since Kory Minor in 1995.

Player assessment

All rankings and assessments current as of 01/21/09.

Recruiting Service Stars/Grade Position Rank Overall Rank
5/5 stars11px11px11px11px
5/5 stars11px11px11px11px
Tom Lemming

Recruitment honors

Manti Te'o was awarded the following rankings and accolades by these recruitment and news sources.[16]

  • Rated the top defensive player in the nation and second-best player in the country by Sporting News.
  • Rated the second-best overall prospect in the ESPNU150 and best linebacker according to ESPN.
  • Ranked fifth nationally in SI/TAKKLE Top 200 for 2008.
  • Rated third in 2009 Athlon Consensus 100.
  • Ranked sixth nationally by and its top linebacker prospect.
  • Ranked the 12th-best overall player nationally and second-best inside linebacker by
  • Rated the best player in Hawaii according to's postseason state rankings.
  • Listed seventh nationally in Chicago Sun-Times rating of top 100 players.
  • Rated the 12th-best all around player by Tom Lemming of CBS College Sports in his Top 100.
  • Named to Superprep Elite 50 squad as 12th-best overall player.
  • Named to Superprep All-America team as second-best linebacker in the county.
  • Named Superprep Far West Defensive Player of the Year.
  • Named top overall prospect in the Offense-Defense 100.
  • Top vote-getter among defensive players in Long Beach Press-Telegram's 2009 Best in the West team.
  • Selected to Western 100 in 2008 by Tacoma News Tribune.
  • Named to 2008 MaxPreps All-America first-team defense as a senior.

College career

Freshman season (2009)

Te'o entered his first college game at the start of the second defensive series early in the second quarter versus Nevada on September 5, 2009. On his third snap Te'o tackled Wolf Pack quarterback Colin Kaepernick after an 11-yard gain on third and 15 for his first collegiate tackle. After playing, but not starting, his first three games, Te'o made his first collegiate start in the Irish's game versus Purdue.[17] He played in all 12 games of his freshman season and finished the season with 63 tackles, the third-most tackles ever by a Notre Dame freshman behind Bob Golic (82 in 1975) and Ross Browner (68 in 1973).[18] Te'o also recorded 5.5 tackles for loss and 1 sack.

On December 8, 2009, Te'o was named a Freshman All-American by College Football News.[19] He was also named a second-team Freshman All-American by[20]

Sophomore season (2010)

Te'o moved from outside to inside linebacker in 2010 as Notre Dame switched to a 3-4 defensive scheme under defensive coordinator Bob Diaco.[21] On April 30, 2010, Te'o was named to the 2010 Lombardi Award & Nagurski Award watch lists.[18][22]

Te'o led the Fighting Irish in tackles with 133, and was second in tackles for loss with 9.5. Against Stanford on September 25, Te'o finished with 21 total tackles. This total represents a career-high for Te'o and is also the most tackles in a game by an individual for Notre Dame since 2006.[23]

Te'o was named one of 16 semifinalists for both the Butkus Award (Best Collegiate Linebacker) and the Bednarik Award for top College defensive player.[24] He was also named a Second Team All-American by CNNSI.[25]

Junior season (2011)

Te'o led the Fighting Irish in tackles for the second straight season in 2011 with 128. He also led the team in tackles for loss with 13.5 and finished second in sacks with 5.0.

Te'o was a finalist for the Butkus Award and the Lott Trophy and was selected as the 2011 FBS Independent Defensive Player of the Year.[26]

Te'o was named a second team All-American by the Associated Press, Walter Camp Football Foundation,, Phil Steele and CNNSI. He was also named to the Capital One Academic All-American second team.[26]

Senior season (2012)

Te’o announced on December 11, 2011 that he would return to Notre Dame for his senior season. Te'o entered his final season as one of 10 players in Notre Dame history to record over 300 career tackles and started the season eighth on the career tackles list for the Fighting Irish.[26] During the season, Te’o was the leading tackler and leader in interceptions for a 12-0 Notre Dame team which had the second-ranked scoring defense (10.33 points per game) in the country. He had 103 tackles in the regular season (52 solo, 51 assisted, 8.58 per game), including 5.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks (one for 13 yards of Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones.[17] Te’o also led the team, as well as all FBS linebackers in the nation, in interceptions. Te’o’s 7 interceptions during the 2012 season are the most by any FBS linebacker since 2001.[27] He ranks third in the nation at 0.58 interceptions per game, and overall only Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas has more, with 8 interceptions this season.[17] Te'o's season-high per game was 2 interceptions for 28 yards against Michigan. All of the statistics have been taken from the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Athletics website.[28]

In the 2012 season, Notre Dame ranked second in the nation in scoring defense (10.33 points per game) and ranked in the top 19 nationally in four other defensive categories: fifth in rushing defense (92.42 yards per game), sixth in total defense (287.25 yards per game), 12th in pass efficiency defense (105.58) and 19th in sacks (2.75 per game). Te'o's 8.58 tackles per game is three and a half more per game than the squad's next-most prolific tackler, Zeke Motta (5.09 per game).[17]

Te'o is one of the most decorated defensive players in college football history. He won the 2012 Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year Lott Trophy, as well as the Maxwell Award, the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Butkus Award, the Lombardi Award, and the Walter Camp Award. In addition, he was named a national scholar-athlete by the National Football Foundation.[29] One of three finalists for the Heisman Trophy, Te'o eventually finished second in the voting to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.

In the BCS National Championship Game, Te'o recorded 10 tackles in a 42-14 loss to a 12-1 Alabama team which won its third national championship in four years. Alabama took control from the start and led 14-0 after the first quarter and extended its lead to a 28-0 score by halftime. Te'o finished with 7 assists and 3 solo tackles.[30]

College career statistics

Te'o has 437 total tackles in his four-year career at Notre Dame. He ranks third all-time in school history behind Bob Crable (521, 1978–81) and Bob Golic (479, 1975–78). He has started the past 47 games, beginning with the fourth game of his freshman season, at Purdue. This is the longest streak of any linebacker in the country.[17] He joins Crable as the second player in Notre Dame history to record 100+ tackles in three consecutive seasons.[31]

All statistics from Notre Dame Official Athletic Site,[32][33][34][35]

Year Team Games Tackles Sacks Pass Defense Fumbles Blkd
Solo Ast Total TFL – Yds No – Yds Int – Yds BU PD Qbh Rcv – Yds FF Kick Saf
2009 Notre Dame 12 29 34 63 5.5 – 25 1.0 – 12 0 – 0 1 1 1 0 – 0 0 0 0
2010 Notre Dame 13 66 67 133 9.5 – 34 1.0 – 7 0 – 0 3 3 3 0 – 0 1 0 0
2011 Notre Dame 13 62 66 128 13.5 – 36 5.0 – 23 0 – 0 2 2 4 0 – 0 1 0 0
2012 Notre Dame 13 55 58 113 5.5 – 19 1.5 – 13 7 – 35 4 11 4 2 – 8 0 0 0
Career 51 212 225 437 34.0 – 114 8.5 – 55 7 – 35 10 17 12 2 – 8 2 0 0

Professional career

2013 NFL Draft

Forgoing the chance of a professional career in 2012, Te'o decided to return to Notre Dame after the 2011 season,[36] despite being projected a late first-round pick for the 2012 NFL Draft as early as mid-season of 2011.[37] In preseason mock drafts from May 2012, Te'o was listed as a late first-rounder for the 2013 NFL Draft as well.[38][39] By mid-season, he had moved up to the mid-first round.[40] Notre Dame has not seen one of their linebackers selected in the first round since Bob Crable in 1982.

At the conclusion of the 2012 college football season, Te'o signed with agent Tom Condon. He is training at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, in preparation for the NFL Draft.[41]

Pre-draft measureables
Ht WtArm lengthHand size 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP
6 ft 1 14 in 241 lb32 12 in9 12 in 4.82 s 1.62 s 4.27 s 7.13 s 33 in 9 ft 5 in


Girlfriend hoax

In the fall of 2012, Te'o told many media outlets that both his grandmother and his girlfriend had died on September 11, 2012.[42] Te'o said that his girlfriend, Stanford University student Lennay Kekua, had died after a car accident and subsequently battling leukemia.[43] Te'o did not miss any football games for Notre Dame, saying that he had promised Kekua that he would play even if something had happened to her.[44] Many sports media outlets reported on these tragedies during Te'o's strong 2012 season and emergence as a Heisman Trophy candidate.[45]

After receiving an anonymous email tip in January 2013, reporters Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey of the sports blog Deadspin conducted an investigation into Kekua's identity. On January 16, they published an article alleging that Kekua did not exist, and pointing to a man named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo as involved in the hoax of her relationship with Te'o.[45][46] Tuiasosopo has been described as a family friend or acquaintance of Te'o.[47][45] Pictures of Kekua that had been published in the media were actually of a former high school classmate of Tuiasosopo.[48]

On the same day the Deadspin article was published, Notre Dame issued a statement that "Manti had been the victim of what appears to be a hoax in which someone using the fictitious name Lennay Kekua apparently ingratiated herself with Manti and then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had tragically died of leukemia."[49][50][51] In a press conference, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick confirmed the university had hired private investigators to uncover the source of the hoax, and he clarified that Te'o's relationship with Kekua was "exclusively an online relationship".[52] This conflicted with previous accounts from Te'o and his family that the couple had first met after a football game and that she visited him in Hawaii.[53][54][55] Swarbrick said that Te'o informed Notre Dame of the hoax on December 26 after receiving a phone call on December 6 from the woman he knew as Kekua, claiming she was still alive. Te'o mentioned Kekua's death in at least four separate interviews in the days following the phone call.[56][55][57][58]

In response to the growing suspicions that he was involved in the hoax, Te'o agreed to a January 18 interview with sports journalist Jeremy Schaap in which he maintained his innocence. Te'o explained that he had lied to his father and others about meeting her in person, because he thought he would be seen as "crazy" for having a serious relationship with a woman he had never met.[59] Te'o said he was angered and confused by the December 6 phone call, and he continued to speak of Kekua because the situation was unclear to him.[59] He explained that Tuiasosopo represented himself as the cousin of Lennay Kekua and that the two men had communicated online over the last several years and met once in person at the 2012 Notre Dame/USC game. Te'o said that Tuiasosopo confessed to him on January 16 that he was behind the hoax.[59]

In a January 24 interview on Katie with Katie Couric, Te'o played three voicemails left by Kekua and said the voice "sounds like a girl", an assessment with which many agreed.[60][61][62] In an appearance on Dr. Phil on January 31 and February 1, Tuiasosopo confessed to the hoax and to pretending to be Kekua; describing himself as "recover[ing] from homosexuality", he admitted to falling in love with Te'o and using the Kekua identity as an escape. He also recreated the female voice behind a privacy screen.[63] Relatives of Tuiasosopo, however, told the New York Post that Kekua's voice belonged to Tuiasosopo's female cousin.[64] Despite the revelation that Kekua did not exist, NFL player Reagan Maui'a said that he twice met someone claiming to be Kekua, and that they had been introduced by Tuiasosopo, whom he believed to be Kekua's cousin.[65]


  1. ARA Sportsmanship | Welcome
  2. Player Bio at the Official Athletic Site of the University of Notre Dame
  3. Manti Te’o Sets An Example
  4. Manti Te’o: The Notre Dame Linebacker Unplugged
  5. Manti Te'o - Athlon Sports
  6. Te'o had starring role as Defensive Player of Year
  7. 47 Commit to Play in UA All-Star Game
  8. Punahou senior linebacker Manti Te'o receives Butkus Award
  9. Manti Te'o SN's high school athlete of the year
  10. USA Today tabs Te'o as its best on defense
  11. Meet PARADE's All-America High School Football Team
  12. Te'o, Funaki top voting of readers
  13. Manti Te'o
  14. Manti Te'o - 10 Who Made A Difference
  15. Te'o goes to Notre Dame as USC's recruiting gets mixed early results
  16. 2009 Notre Dame Signing Day Central
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 Walters, John. "Manti Te'o: The Notre Dame Linebacker Unplugged". Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Manti Te'o Named To The 2010 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List
  19. Cirminiello, Richard (December 8, 2009), "2009 CFN All-Freshman Team: Defense & Special Teams", College Football News,
  20. 2009 Freshman All-American Team
  21. Te’o will be focus of defensive revival at Notre Dame
  22. 2010 Lombardi Award Watch List
  23. Notre Dame football: Ton of tackles, little else for Te'o
  24. Star, Daily (2010-11-09). "MSU’s Jones, ND’s Te’o on Bednarik list". The Niles Star. Retrieved 2010-12-27.
  25. Te'o, Ruffer named all-americans
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 "Eifert, Te'o and Floyd gain multiple All-America honors",, December 16, 2011,
  27. Clarke, Patrick. "Heisman Watch 2012: Making the Best Case for Each Top Contender". Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  28. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Athletics. "Cumulative Season Statistics". Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  29. Virgen, Steve (December 12, 2012). "Virgen's View: Te'o caps special week in Newport Beach". Daily Pilot. Retrieved December 22, 2012.
  30. "Alabama vs Notre Dame (Jan 7, 2013)". Jan. 7, 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  31. ESPN Stats & Information. "Notre Dame concedes very little on defense". Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  32. "Notre Dame Official Athletic Site — Overall Defensive Statistics 2009-2010". University of Notre Dame. Retrieved 2009-10-28.
  33. "Notre Dame Official Athletic Site — Overall Defensive Statistics 2010-2011". University of Notre Dame. Retrieved 2010-09-18.
  34. "Notre Dame Official Athletic Site — Overall Defensive Statistics 2011-2012". University of Notre Dame. Retrieved 2011-10-06.
  35. "Notre Dame Official Athletic Site — Overall Defensive Statistics 2012-2013". University of Notre Dame. Retrieved 2012-09-14.
  36. "Manti Te'o to return to Notre Dame". December 11, 2011.
  37. Pauline, Tony (October 24, 2011). "Andrew Luck, Trent Richardson high in midseason NFL draft rankings".
  38. Prisco, Pete (April 30, 2012). "Top 32 for 2013: Barkley headlines a class that already looks deep". CBS Sports.
  39. Schrager, Peter (May 1, 2012). "Schrager's 2013 mock draft". Fox Sports.
  40. Pauline, Tony (November 8, 2012). "Barkevious Mingo, Bjoern Werner, Star Lotulelei in top 50".
  41. Hansen, Eric (January 14, 2013). "Notre Dame football notebook: Te'o's draft stock holds steady".,0,3662245.story.
  42. "Manti Te'o overcomes tragic loss of grandmother and girlfriend". October 5, 2012.
  43. Hansen, Eric (16 October 2012). "Manti Te'o: A career that has come full circle". Deseret News. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  44. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Athletics. "Manti Te'o Press Conference Transcript". Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  45. 45.0 45.1 45.2 Burke, Timothy. "Manti Te'o's Dead Girlfriend, The Most Heartbreaking And Inspirational Story Of The College Football Season, Is A Hoax". Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  46. Auman, Greg (17 January 2013). "Q&A with St. Petersburg man who helped break story of Manti Te'o's fictional girlfriend". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  47. "Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax: Woman says Ronaiah Tuiasosopo confessed to duping Te'o". Sporting News. 18 January 2013. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  48. "Photo woman: Tuiasosopo confessed". ESPN. 25 January 2013. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
  49. Notre Dame, Te'o say linebacker was victim of hoax
  50. Myerberg, Paul (16 January 2013). "Report: Manti Te'o's inspirational girlfriend story a hoax". Gannett Company. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  51. "Notre Dame Statement: Manti Te’o Was Victim Of A Hoax". Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  52. Fornelli, Tom (16 January 2013). "Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick addresses Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax". CBS Interactive. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  53. George, Rachel (17 January 2013). "The questions that Manti Te'o needs to answer on girlfriend hoax". USAToday. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  54. Thamel, Pete (17 January 2013). "Manti Te'o in his own words". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
  55. 55.0 55.1 Eder, Steve (17 January 2013). "Image Becomes a Puzzle as Theories on Te’o Swirl". NY Times. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  56. Petchesky, Barry (18 January 2013). "What Did Manti Te’o Say About His Dead Girlfriend After He’d Learned She Wasn’t Real?". Deadspin. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
  57. "Notre Dame stands by Manti Te’o, says he was ‘perfect mark’ for a hoax". Yahoo. 16 January 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  58. Cosentino, Dom (16 January 2013). "Notre Dame: Manti Te’o Was The Victim Of Mean Internet People". Deadspin. Gawker Media. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  59. 59.0 59.1 59.2 "Manti Te'o denies being part of hoax". ESPN. 19 January 2013. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  60. Russo, Ralph (25 January 2013). "Manti Te’o voicemails aired". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
  61. "Manti Te'o to be interviewed by Katie Couric". AP. 20 January 2013. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  62. ""Manti Te'o girlfriend voice at issue"". ESPN. 25 January 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
  63. Associated Press (31 January 2013). "Hoaxer was in love with Manti Te'o". ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  64. Hansen, Eric; M.L. Nestel; Jeane Macintosh (25 January 2013). "Cousin of Te'o hoaxster revealed as the voice behind fake girlfriend, relatives confirm". New York Post. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  65. "Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax: Former NFL player says Lennay Kekua 'real,' met her in person". 16 January 2013. Retrieved 17 January 2013.

External links