When Notre Dame travels to East Lansing for a huge tilt against Michigan State, the team will have All-American linebacker Manti Te’o on the field.
It's a brave decision for Te'o, who has dealt with the loss of two loved ones this week. From John Taylor of College Football Talk:
According to multiple media outlets, the grandmother and girlfriend of All-American linebacker Manti Te’o passed away this week in his native state of Hawaii. Te’o's girlfriend lost her lengthy battle with leukemia less than a day after his grandmother died.
Irish head coach Brian Kelly would only acknowledge that Te’o had lost “some people very close to” him when asked by local media Thursday. Kelly also confirmed that, despite the toll it's taken, Te’o will play against the No. 10 Spartans this weekend.
First of all, condolences to Te'o and his family during this difficult time. To lose two loved ones in such a short duration of time is devastating.
For Te'o, having his teammates to support him and a game plan to study has probably been a welcome distraction. Any football player will tell you that once you walk over that chalk line, everything happening off the field has to leave your mind. Therefore, I wouldn't expect Te'o to be distracted or unproductive.
For Notre Dame, having the All-American linebacker against Le'Veon Bell and the strong Michigan State running attack is a huge plus. Bell has rushed for 280 rushing yards and four touchdowns in two games, and the Spartans have dominated time of possession in both, 74:30 to 45:30.
The Irish have a tough task in front of them, and they'll need the defense to be stout, especially since they are starting freshman quarterback Everett Golson. Te'o will have to be active and disruptive, and he'll need to win his battle with the Michigan State offensive line and Bell if Notre Dame is to get the win.
I admire the young man for his bravery by playing in this game. Football can't cure a heavy heart, but I hope the familiarity of the game can at least provide Te'o with some comfort during this difficult time.
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