Four years after Manti Te'o left Hawaii as a highly-touted recruit to join the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the linebacker is a Heisman Trophy finalist and the undisputed leader of a team that is headed to a BCS National Championship Game. Texas A&M assistant coach Brian Polian told Brian Hamilton on Friday that the successful career of the Hawaii native could change the scope of the recruiting landscape in the state:
"There's no doubt that it resonates," Polian said. "Texas A&M is involved in recruiting battles in Hawaii. Part of that is because Manti left Hawaii and was successful at Notre Dame. Other kids see that, and they say, 'I can do that too.'"
Polian was an assistant at Notre Dame during Te'o's recruitment and was part of the process to lure the linebacker to play for the Irish. Te'o has been about as successful as imaginable, accumulating seven interceptions, 1.5 sacks and 52 tackles in his senior season.
Te'o is one of three Heisman finalists with Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein. Only one defensive player has ever won the award, Charles Woodson in 1997.