Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Te'o ready to return to teammates, practice
By Matt Fortuna
Notre Dame returns to practice Tuesday for the third time since the regular season ended, and it will welcome back a familiar face.
A six-city-in-seven-days, 9,936-mile tour of the awards circuit has brought Manti Te'o full-circle back to the Irish. And -- amid the screaming, hitting and constant barking that awaits -- back to a place of comfort.
"I'm relieved that it's over," Te'o said after the Heisman Trophy ceremony. "I'm excited that I get the chance to prepare for Bama. I'm telling you guys: Heisman Trophy or national championship, I'm taking national championship 100 times out of 100, and I want to get back with my brothers.
"I saw them on TV [Friday] night during the awards show and I missed them. So it's time for me to go back home and be with my guys."
Last week's final tally was eight nominations, with Te'o bringing home hardware a record seven times, falling just short of the most coveted of them all, the Heisman.
Despite coming up short to Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel -- whose mom and dad donned a lei and Kukui nuts, respectively, after the family befriended the Hawaii native -- Te'o did not think his Heisman run marked a dead end for players on his side of the ball, citing his record 1,706 points, the most ever by an exclusively defensive player.
The linebacker hopes to turn the sting toward the Crimson Tide.
"It's motivation," Te'o said. "I always wanted to be the best and I just used that as motivation to be the best I can be. Obviously I have a lot of work to do and I'm just excited to get back and get things cracking."
The 255-pound Te'o joked two weeks ago that he had hoped every hotel he was going to stay in had a gym, so that he wouldn't come back looking like a defensive end.
Now he hopes to make the most of 13 practices and 27 days left to prepare for the national title game.
"I've been training this whole time, but just get back in the groove of things, put the pads back on, smack around some guys, study a lot of film -- that's what I love about this whole time," Te'o said. "I have weeks and weeks to study film. Usually I have about three days to study film during the season, but I have three weeks to study film. So I'll get well-acquainted with Alabama."