Manti Te'o was one of the best college football players in the country during his time at Notre Dame. Before the start of the Fighting Irish hosting the California Bears, the linebacker was introduced to the cheers of those in attendance.
He spoke to the Notre Dame faithful, giving the crowd an emotional speech, and said (via Bleacher Report):
"There is a reason we’re the Fighting Irish. We’ll fight you anywhere. We’ll fight you in there, we’ll fight you on the road, we’ll fight you in the parking lot. Turf, snow, rain—it doesn’t matter. We’ll fight you for four quarters. Now we’re going to get the job done. Remember that language, boys. Stay fluent in it. Go Irish!"
He was back in South Bend, Indiana for the first time since his senior season in 2012, when he had a phenomenal time. The linebacker won numerous awards, including the Chuck Bendarik Award as college football's best defensive player and the Dick Butkus Award as the most outstanding linebacker.
During that miraculous season, he had what he thought was a real girlfriend named Lennay Kekua. However, it was uncovered that Kekua was not real and that he was part of a complex catfishing scheme. Kekua's 'death' came after his grandmother's passing. It was a major motivator for his stellar season.
His story became the subject of a Netflix documentary titled Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn't Exist. It was released last month and covers the events in full detail.
Manti Te'o and his career after Notre Dame
Manti Te'o was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. The linebacker had 221 tackles, two interceptions, and one-and-a-half sacks in four seasons with the Chargers. Te'o played the next three seasons with the New Orleans Saints before last playing with the Chicago Bears in the 2020 season.
Te'o married health and beauty expert Jovi Nicole in 2020 and has a daughter. For the 31-year-old, it was a great return to where he achieved such great success.