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Freshman Manti Te'o Making an Early Impression at Irish Camp

Erin McLaughlinSenior Analyst IIAugust 12, 2009

In case you haven't heard, there is a Pacific Islander in South Bend. Not only that, he is also a Mormon at Notre Dame.

His name is Manti Te'o.

Charlie Weis is expecting big things from him immediately for the Irish. On Sunday, local Hawaii media reported that Te'o is making such an impression that he could be starting this year.

Te'o has climbed up the depth chart and is currently listed as No.2 behind Brian Smith at outside linebacker. However, there is a chance that he could move to the middle and replace Toryan Smith.

Now that is coming from Hawaii media which is understandably going to be biased for their local kid. I would be very surprised if he actually jumped ahead of Toryan Smith.

Nonetheless, I am very excited to see Te'o play. I saw him twice in high school and he was an absolute beast.

The thing I remembered most about last year was the Hawaii Bowl. While many ND haters downplay their performance, the game was very important for many reasons. I knew when I was flying over that Notre Dame not only had to win but really make a statement.

For me the primary reason was to send a message to potential recruits. One of those kids would be at that game and that of course was Te'o. If not for the strong performance, Notre Dame probably would not have been able to steal him from USC.

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This was a signing that really excited me. 

That was partially because Notre Dame stole him from USC, but also because I have seen many local kids that I watched in high school leave the islands and go be successful in college football. The most notable was Kaluka Maiava who played for arch rival USC.

Te'o is the first one to go to Notre Dame, the school I rooted for all my life. For that reason, it has a little sentimental value.

I am hoping that Te'o can keep up the great work in practice. If he does, I don't expect him to start but he will be an impact player off the bench.

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