As a 5-star recruit from Hawaii, Te'o spurned offers from USC, Oregon, Tennessee and UCLA to join what was then a downtrodden Notre Dame program in South Bend (via Rivals.com). For Te'o, it was all about making his mark in one of the most heralded college football programs in the history of the game.
For nearly four years, Te'o personified what it meant to be a student athlete. He was a leader on the field, within the community and in the classroom. He helped rebuild a program that was about as American as apple pie.
Then the "Catfish" scandal broke. It was a surreal ending to what had been a surreal four-year career for Te'o in South Bend. The media jumped all over a scandal that could have only been created in the social media age. For many, the entire background of this scandal was just too much to fully grasp. We jumped to conclusions, made jokes about "catfish" and created some of the most mind-numbing memes in the history of this new digital media era.
For all intents and purposes, Te'o became a willing victim of the 21st century. His success on the field led to this being placed under the microscope and the end result represented one of the largest media firestorms in the recent history of the sports world.
Today's article is going to focus on the rise and fall (and possible rise again) of Te'o as he prepares to enter the National Football League and morph from an amateur athlete to a professional.