For Te'o, Notre Dame legacy isn't complete

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For Te'o, Notre Dame legacy isn't complete

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Manti Te'o could've declared for the NFL Draft after his junior year and left Notre Dame with a nice legacy, remembered as one of the better linebackers to ever play for the school.
Part of the reason why he returned, though, was to experience senior day, to run out of the tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium one last time to be greeted by his parents.
Te'o will get that chance on Saturday afternoon, when Notre Dame plays Wake Forest in its final home game of the 2012 season. But there was another motivating factor for Te'o to return after his junior year.
"He has unfinished business as it relates to this football team," coach Brian Kelly said on the outset of fall practice in August.
Three and a half months later, a 10-0 record and about all the national hype possible for a linebacker hasn't changed that motivation.
"Just hope we're playing sometime in January, that's our goal, that's the legacy that I'm looking at right now," Te'o said Wednesday. "Whatever is written while that's happening, so be it. But I'm just trying to do whatever it takes to make sure that my team is playing in January."
Truthfully, Te'o's already done enough to accomplish that goal. As the centerpiece of the best defense Notre Dame has seen in years, Te'o has led the charge to 10-0, and even if Notre Dame doesn't win out, a bid to a BCS bowl looks like a lock.
On top of that, Te'o has a legitimate chance to go to New York as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. He's a longshot to actually win the award, but given how rare it is for a defensive player to be named a finalist for college football's most prestigious honor, that's an accomplishment in itself.
It's also one Te'o isn't very interested in.
"I think when my name is being tossed around as a national champion, that's what I'm looking for," Te'o said. "You ask any Heisman winner that wasn't a national champion what they would rather be, and I think they would rather be the latter, a national champion.
"So that's what I want. I rather be holding a crystal ball than a bronze statue. That's just me."
Te'o is fond of saying that champions at Notre Dame become legends. Notre Dame may not have a shot at a national championship this year, despite Te'o's best efforts. There exists a possibility -- one that gets better with every Kansas State and Oregon victory -- that Notre Dame finishes the regular season 12-0 and gets shut out of the BCS Championship.
But this 2012 Notre Dame team won't soon be forgotten. The throngs of students who wore leis to Notre Dame's win over Michigan in September won't forget that experience, and that's just one example of many regarding Te'o's impact.
Te'o's legacy isn't just centered around his work on the football field. It encompasses him as a person, someone who dealt with tragedy with strength, someone who is serious about his work, someone who many view as a legitimate role model.
"He lives his life the right way," Kelly said. "He goes to class. He takes great care of himself off the field. He's a college student. He can laugh and have fun and be silly. He can be tough. He's just all that you would want in a young man as a college student and a representative of Notre Dame. He's a good student, fun to be around, and one darn good football player.
"So when that guy walks in and out of here every day, there is a mirroring effect and a trickle-down effect to the other players in the program that go 'I want to be like that guy.'"
Championship or not, Te'o's impact on Notre Dame will be felt long after he matriculates to the NFL. That's his legacy, and it's a pretty remarkable one at that for the linebacker from Laie, Hawaii.
"Once I leave here," he explained, "I hope that the impact I've made not only on the football field but in people's lives will forever be remembered."

Recruiting news and notes: Jeff Thomas in no rush

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Recruiting news and notes: Jeff Thomas in no rush

East St. Louis senior four-star ranked wide receiver Jeff Thomas (5-foot-11, 170 pounds) put on a show in the Flyers' 34-3 win over Providence Catholic in New Lenox.

Thomas, who hauled in 5 catches for 170 yards and two touchdowns while also playing defensive back, is still uncommitted and doesn't seem to be in any hurry to make a college choice.

"Everything is the same," Thomas said. "It's all about my team and the season for right now."

Earlier this summer, Thomas listed his top schools as Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Miami (Fla.), Michigan State and Missouri. Missouri just added a recent verbal commitment from East St Louis QB Rey Estes and the Tigers many feel could have an advantage in landing Thomas. Missouri has four former East St. Louis Flyers on its current roster.

Deerfield senior three-star ranked defensive end Joshua Maize (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) recently released his list of favorites schools which includes Toledo, UConn, Indiana, Central Michigan, Miami of Ohio and Ball State. Maize however has also been drawing heavy recruiting looks from several other BCS level schools including Purdue, Syracuse, Rutgers, Illinois and Penn State and those schools plan to re-evaluate Maize early this fall. Maize plans to make official visits before making a final college choice and recently said, "my recruiting process is still very open at this time."

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One position that is having rough recruiting ride in the Class of 2017? Quarterback. So far just three in-state Class of 2017 signal callers have given BCS level schools a verbal commitments including Jacob's Chris Katernick (Bowling Green), Marian Catholic's Cameron Thomas (Illinois) and Estes (Missouri). So far, the only FCS level in-state known verbal pledge comes from Hinsdale Central's Josh Bean (Columbia). 

This Thursday (Sept. 1st) is a big day in football recruiting circles for the Class of 2018. Thursday is the first day that prospects are allowed per the NCAA to receive recruiting materials (mail) along with unlimited electronic transmissions (text/instant/direct messages) from college coaches. 

"I've stayed in touch with a handful of college coaches and they all said that I would be hearing from them on Thursday," Lake Zurich junior inside linebacker Jack Sanborn said. "It's exciting to hear from those coaches along with hopefully some new schools as well."

Need proof that the recruiting process calendar is getting pushed up earlier and earlier? From my recently-released State of Illinois Class of 2017 Top 60 recruit rankings, 49 out of the 60 recruits have already given schools a verbal commitment. Out of the 11 uncommitted players, I would say nearly half of those players are being held up from giving a verbal commitment because of various academic questions/issues.

Injuries figure into Bears most recent roster cuts

Injuries figure into Bears most recent roster cuts

Health issues ran through the Bears’ most recent roster cuts that brought the player total to its required 75 by Tuesday.

Center Hroniss Grasu (knee) and quarterback Connor Shaw (leg) were played on injured reserve. Linebacker Roy Robertson-Harris, ill for much of training camp and forced to leave practice early Monday with sickness, was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list; and linebacker Lamin Barrow was waived/injured.

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Notre Dame linebacker Jarrett Grace also was waived.

The Bears must cut down to 53 players by Sunday night.

Notre Dame will approach Texas game thinking four arrested players will play

Notre Dame will approach Texas game thinking four arrested players will play

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame will prepare for its season opener Sunday with the thought it’ll have linebacker Te’von Coney, running back Dexter Williams, cornerback Ashton White and receiver Kevin Stepherson available against Texas. 

Those four players were all formally charged with possession of marijuana in Fulton County on Monday, and Coney and Stepherson appeared in court and entered not guilty pleas on Tuesday. Safety Max Redfield, who was dismissed from the program two days after his arrest, was formally charged with possession of a handgun without a license and possession of marijuana, and pleaded not guilty to both charges. 

Senior cornerback Devin Butler, who was charged with resisting arrest and battery to a police officer last week, remains indefinitely suspended, coach Brian Kelly said. 

Coney, Williams, White and Stepherson have all been practicing with the team and Coney, Williams, and Stepherson are all listed on Notre Dame’s two-deep depth chart released Tuesday. Kelly said he has never suspended a player for a first-time marijuana offense, but noted that all four players still have to go through Notre Dame’s Office of Community Standards and could be subject to discipline from that process.

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"We're going to work as if they're going to play," Kelly said.

Kelly said the Office of Community Standards received reports on Tuesday and expects the process to begin soon, though doesn’t know if and when those players will be cleared. 

As for Redfield, Kelly said he was dismissed from the team because he was in possession of the handgun when those five players were pulled over on U.S. about 35 miles south of South Bend Aug. 19. 

“It was the handgun that was the gamechanger,” Kelly said.