Is Manti Te'o the next Ray Lewis?

Updated: April 15, 2009, 12:22 PM ET
ESPN RISE Magazine

No player during the past decade has struck fear into the hearts of opponents quite like Ray Lewis. One of the best middle linebackers in NFL history, No. 52 is a nightmare because he's always around the ball and brings a devastating blend of passion, power and smarts.

Even in 2008, when he was supposed to be on the downside of his career, Lewis was an All-Pro first team selection for the sixth time while spearheading the Baltimore Ravens' run to the AFC Championship game. A two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and MVP of Super Bowl XXXV, Lewis delivered his bone-crunching hits in high school at Kathleen (Lakeland, Fla.), where he accumulated 207 tackles and 10 sacks. He then played three years at Miami and was Baltimore's first-round pick in 1996.

Te'O vs. Lewis
Manti Te'o Ray Lewis
CLASS 2009 1993
HT/WT 6-2/230 6-1/250
TACKLES* 129 207
SACKS* 11 10

If you're looking for someone who can eventually take the mantle from Lewis, Punahou (Honolulu) senior linebacker Manti Te'o possesses the same type of intangibles. Arguably the greatest football player to ever come out of Hawaii, Te'o brings a heavy dose of speed and athleticism, but the Notre Dame recruit's greatest quality might be his football IQ. Rated the nation's No. 1 defensive player and No. 2 overall recruit in the ESPNU 150, the Under Armour All- American garnered Gatorade State Player of the Year honors for the second straight year this past fall after leading Punahou to its first state title in its 118- year history.

Te'o finished with 129 tackles, 11 sacks, three forced fumbles and three interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. And he's only getting better. Now that's a scary thought.

[+] EnlargeManti Teo
Chris Livingston/Icon SmiManti Te'o impressed at the Under Armour All-America game in January.


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