Manti Te'o is every bit of the "Notre Dame Man" that Irish fans always speak of. A world-class individual, Manti has always been known for his gracious and humble attitude, his hard work in the classroom as well as on the field, and his tremendous leadership abilities.
Manti was a Preseason First Team All-American, and is a legitimate Heisman candidate on the defensive side of the ball. He has been named one of the four team captains for the 2012 season, but there is no doubt that he is the true heart and soul of the Fighting Irish.
Last week, Manti battled through an incredibly trying and difficult experience, when both his grandmother and his girlfriend passed away in a 24-hour period. While Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick told Manti to take all the time he needed, Te'o insisted that he needed to be with his Notre Dame family and brothers on the team to get through this. Manti then played well with 12 total tackles in a dominating road win at Michigan State, but the fact that he played and was out there for his teammates at all was the most impressive thing.
As a sign of appreciation, loyalty, and utmost respect, Irish fans are going to make Saturday's game versus Michigan a special one for Manti. All Notre Dame fans are encouraged to buy and wear leis, which represent Te'o's upbringing in Hawaii.
In addition, when Manti comes out on the field for the coin toss, the stadium is expecting to raise up five fingers to support #Raise5for5, recognizing Te'o's jersey number.
This is a fantastic gesture from all of the Irish faithful, and something I will be proud to be a part of on Saturday.
Update: Leprechaun Legion, the student body organization dedicated to Irish athletics, will be handing out 7,500 leis to students at the Pep Rally on Friday!
Get there to pick yours up!
Update 2: Other organizations are getting in on this too now - WSBT Radio and Budweiser will be handing over 10,000 more leis at the game. Wow!
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