Notre Dame Football: Manti Te'o's Stock Will Climb Despite Tough Season Ahead

Brian Mazique@@UniqueMaziqueCorrespondent IIIAugust 29, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 13: Manti Te'o #5 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish brings down Terrance Cain #7 of the Utah Utes at Notre Dame Stadium on November 13, 2010 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Utah 28-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The prospects of Notre Dame's 2012 season don't look good from a wins and losses standpoint, but Manti Te'o will shine no matter what the team's record turns out to be.

I've followed Te'o closely ever since he was one of the most celebrated prep stars in the United States. Because of his talent level, I didn't expect that he would stay in South Bend for four years, but here he is heading into his senior year with the Irish.

I have watched Te'o develop as a middle linebacker and as a leader.

His production has increased from his freshman season when had 68 tackles to his sophomore and junior campaigns when he had 139 and 128 stops, respectively.

He could have entered the 2012 NFL draft. Dave Miller of the National Football Post is among those who had him slated as a possible first-round selection.

Instead, Te'o decided to return for another year of college football and, barring injury, the result will be a spectacular season.

I expect Te'o to be a mid-to-late first-round pick in 2013. Teams like the Chicago Bears, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants need an upgrade or youth at the position.

Te'o has to be considered one of the best—if not the best—inside linebackers in the country. Playing on an inexperienced Notre Dame defense will only make his play stand out more.

This talented player will also further improve his already-strong leadership skills. Defensive coordinators and coaches will be eager to bring in the Samoan tackling machine to lead their defenses.

Te'o is a diamond that will shine through a rough year in South Bend.


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