Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Manti Te'o takes a victory lap as Notre Dame's fifth horseman

The linebacker picks up seven major awards around the country in an outstanding though emotion-filled season. Although the Heisman eluded him, Te'o is arguably the best player in the game this year.

Manti Te'o is the heart and soul of unbeaten Notre Dame's defense. (Winslow Townson / AP / November 12, 2012)

By Bill Dwyre

December 10, 2012, 8:10 p.m.

If you were paying attention this college football season, you saw that Notre Dame acquired a fifth horseman.

It wasn't the 1924 Army game. Nor was Grantland Rice around to write it; or Harry Stuhldreher, Jim Crowley, Don Miller or Elmer Layden alive to see it, or approve the addition to their lore.

It was a linebacker named Manti Te'o, who performed on a level that made him, arguably, the best player in the game this season. Last week, that argument received validation during the annual postseason awards week. Te'o was a candidate for eight major awards. He won seven of them.

When he arrived at the Pacific Club in Newport Beach on Sunday night as a nominee at the Lott Impact Awards dinner, he was exhausted and exhilarated. His 8,500-mile victory lap was about to end with one more win.

He had been nominated twice previously for the award, named for former USC star defensive back Ronnie Lott and designed to honor the defensive player making the most impact. This year's announcement was about as shocking as Fighting Irish football fans wearing green.

It was Te'o's seventh trophy. No other player had won more than five. The only award he was up for that he didn't win was the Heisman, which went to Texas A&M freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, further labeling the Heisman, the sport's top postseason honor, as a celebration of achievement for those who play offense.

Sunday night, Te'o said he had made a friend in Manziel and praised the Heisman experience. But his competitive edge remained.

"When I heard his name announced," Te'o said, "I felt that burn you get, that somebody else has won. I take it as motivation to get better."

He has one remaining game in his college career. That is Jan. 7 in Miami, when No. 1 Notre Dame takes on No. 2 Alabama in the Bowl Championship Series title game. Any improvement will merely build on superb numbers, such as 103 tackles, two fumble recoveries and seven interceptions.

The Lott Awards, finale of a long week, might have been one to miss, even with the likelihood of winning. But Te'o is not the no-show type, especially for this event.

"I made a lot of friends here the last two years," he said. "This was the one I was looking forward to most. Especially after last year."

It was during his speech at that 2011 dinner, as one of the nominees, that Te'o, a likely high NFL draft choice, announced he would come back for his senior season. That caught many people, including Irish Coach Brian Kelly, by surprise. Suddenly, the Lott dinner was a news event. Sunday night, when Te'o accepted the Lott trophy, the memory made him emotional.

"This event, I hold dear," he said. "It was here I made maybe the best decision of my life."

His father, Brian, articulated that decision. "Manti chose a road less taken," he said.

The 2012 season was a Manti Te'o story book, although not all of the chapters were positive. On Sept. 12, within hours, he was given news that his grandmother in Hawaii and his girlfriend at Stanford had died, the latter after a battle with cancer.

He said girlfriend Lennay Kekau "made me promise, when it happened, that I would stay and play," Te'o said Sunday night.

Stay and play he did. He was the heart and soul of a team that needed every inch of every organ to get to 12-0. That included stunning goal-line stands and dozens of pressure-packed, inspirational moments. In the middle of each was Te'o.

That led to perhaps his toughest physical test of the season.

Monday, Dec. 3, Te'o and a Notre Dame contingent left South Bend, Ind., at 5:45 a.m. They flew to Charlotte, N.C., to receive the Nagurski Award, for defensive player of the year. Tuesday, it was off to New York City for the National Football Foundation Dinner, where Te'o received an $18,000 grant for postgraduate study, a scholarship endowed by the NFL.

Early Wednesday, it was off to Houston to collect the Lombardi Award for the nation's best lineman or linebacker. Then Thursday, on to Orlando, Fla., where an ESPN-sponsored show brought him the Walter Camp player-of-the-year award, the Bednarik defensive-player-of-the-year award and the Maxwell player-of-the-year trophy.

Friday, it was back to New York for the Heisman and two days of festivities; Sunday morning on to Los Angeles for the Lott Award.

He has also won the Butkus Award for top linebacker. The usual procedure for that is a surprise ceremony on the player's campus. Te'o, of course, was never on campus last week, so that trophy will come to South Bend on Monday.

Sunday night, Te'o took a red-eye flight to Chicago and drove on to South Bend. The victory tour had ended and final exams awaited. He has a 3.5 grade-point average in graphic design and will graduate in 31/2 years, although he will stay around Notre Dame this spring so he can walk in May with his graduating class.

His coach, Kelly, was along for the ride this week.

"I wanted to share this, to chase around with him," Kelly said. "The neat thing is that he is still a college kid. Nothing slick or hip about him. No sound bites.

"I also knew I'll never see another kid like this."

Morning tipoff: Siva’s dimes Posted on November 21, 2012 by C. L. Brown

Peyton Siva is off to the hottest start that you probably didn’t notice. U of L’s senior point guard has 27 assists through three games – which is his highest three-game total of his career. That includes twice tying his career high of 10 in a game against Manhattan and Miami (Ohio).

(As a freshman his highest total was 11 vs. Western Carolina 4, Oral Roberts 3 and Western Kentucky 4.

As a sophomore: 23 twice vs. DePaul 10, @Notre Dame 7, Syracuse 6; Marquette 9, Notre Dame 7, UConn 7.

As a junior: 26 vs. IUPUI 8, Fairleigh Dickinson 9, Memphis 9.)

More than anything else, what it says to me is that Siva has been playing within himself. Unlike the beginning to last season, he doesn’t feel like winning all rests on his shoulders. Through these first three games he’s taken just 16 shots – compared to 27 over his first three games last season.

If he can get 23 assists in three days of the Battle 4 Atlantis he’ll move past Keith Williams and DeJuan Wheat into fourth place on the school’s career assists list.

It’s doubtful Siva can surpass LaBradford Smith’s record of 713 career assists. (Siva currently sits at 476.) But he can make a serious run at the single season record of 226 and also held by Smith the 1989-90 season. Siva’s total of 211 assists from last season is second on the single-season list.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hawaii’s Manti Teo Sets All Kinds of Records

09 Dec 2012 - 9:38 am

Senior Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o finished second in the running for the 78th annual Heisman trophy on Saturday.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel took home the award, making him the first freshman to ever win the trophy.

In his second place finish, Te’o made plenty of history. He is the first Hawai’i-born athlete to be a finalist for the award, as well as the highest finishing solely defensive player in Heisman history.

The La’ie native still holds the record for college football postseason awards with six, one more than Charles Woodson’s previous record of five.

The Punahou graduate finished his regular season with 103 tackles and seven interceptions, which marks a school linebacker record. His 10 total turnovers created ties him for first in the nation.

Manti is the leader of the undefeated Fighting Irish, who’s suffocating defense is first in the nation in points allowed.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie released the following statement to express Hawaii’s pride in Te’o:

“I called Manti’s father, Brian, and asked him to pass on congratulations from the people of Hawaii to Manti and his mother. Building on six national accolades earned earlier this week, Manti also earned the most points ever by a purely defensive player in Heisman history,” Abercromie said. “Manti represents not only his strong family values but Hawaii values as well. He represents a standard for others to achieve. We are all very proud of his accomplishments.”

Top-Ranked Notre Dame will take on Alabama in the BCS National Championship on Jan. 7 in Miami, Fla.

Manti Te’o has become a household name. On Saturday, hundreds cheered him on as the first Heisman finalist to represent Hawaii.

A parade of cars started at Kualoa Beach Park, making their way up to Manti Teo’s hometown.

Fans cheered along the route and gathered at Laie Community Park.

“You’re standing on hallowed grounds. This place that you’re standing at, this is where the stars and athletes are made from,” Hawaii Sports Hall of Famer Junior Ah You said.

From keiki to kupuna, hundreds came out, brought their favorite dish, and showed their support.

“It’s definitely a humbling experience to see everyone show up just to support our brother and all that he’s done,” Brieanne Te’o said, Manti’s sister.

Everyone eagerly awaited the announcement of the Heisman trophy winner.

“He has a very Cinderella story. We’ve all heard about his girlfriend and his grandmother passing away the same day,” Ah You said. “He’s a great leader, great kid, perfect candidate for this kind of award.”

And although the announcement was not the outcome everyone was hoping for, it didn’t take away from his many accomplishments throughout his football career, and the excitement supporters have for what lies ahead for this rising star.

“He’s not just a defensive player, he’s the defensive player,” Ah You said.

And his success may be measured best by his leadership, determination, and humility on and off the field.

“Our players look up to him. He’s been an inspiration to everyone here, not just to our players, but the whole state,” Kahuku High School head football coach Reggie Torres said.

“He’s a very humble humble kid, we couldn’t have picked a better representative for the state of Hawaii, for the South Pacific than Manti Te’o,” Ah You said.

“We’re just so proud of him. All I’m thinking about is whether he’ll be home for Christmas,” Brieanne Te’o said.

Te’o has one more game left in college career — the national championship against Alabama.

Colts center carving his own legacy

By MIKE BEAS mbeas@dailyjournal.net
Daily Journal sports writer
First Posted: November 26, 2012 - 11:42 pm
Last Updated: November 26, 2012 - 11:44 pm

Indianapolis Colts center Samson Satele blocks for quarterback Andrew Luck, left, during the Colts' 20-13 victory against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. PHOTO BY SCOTT ROBERSON

INDIANAPOLIS — In the moments following the Indianapolis Colts’ upset of Green Bay in October, Samson Satele went looking for the player he idolizes.

It’s what centers do.

Just as quarterbacks greet opposing signal-callers and receivers seek out other receivers in order to shake hands, bump fists or briefly embrace, oft-overlooked snappers of the football have their own fraternity.

After all, who understands the many complexities associated with what appears to be the simplest of game-day procedures better than another center?

Name: Samson Satele

Age: 28

Job: Indianapolis Colts center

Jersey number: 64

Height: 6-3

Weight: 299

Born: Kailua, Hawaii

High school: Kailua High School, 2002

College: University of Hawaii, 2007

Drafted: By the Miami Dolphins in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft

Did you know: Satele majored in sociology in college ... was named first team All-Western Athletic Conference following his junior and senior seasons ... was Hawaii’s starting center in 2006 when record-setting QB Colt Brennan led the team to an 11-3 record.

The exchange between Satele and another bearded warrior, the Packers’ Jeff Saturday, was cordial but brief. And whether anyone realized it at the time, the meeting symbolized the closest thing to a passing of the torch within the confines of the NFL.

Where Satele is, Saturday was. From 1999-2011, with two Super Bowl appearances and five trips to the Pro Bowl, Saturday achieved icon status within the franchise. He’s a surefire Ring of Honor recipient after he retires and might even join the short list of centers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“The man is a legend. I’ve watched a lot of film of him. Jeff is a craftsman, a technician,” said the 6-foot-3, 299-pound Satele, who signed with the Colts in March exactly two days before Saturday inked a two-year deal with Green Bay.

“I just try to work my craft. I watch a lot of tape of Jeff and Nick Hardwick of San Diego,” Satele said. “Nick is a tough guy who puts himself in the right spot all of the time.”

Satele refers to Hardwick, an Indianapolis native who graduated from Lawrence North High School and Purdue University, as one of his closest friends. Hardwick, 31, who at one point played in the Center Grove Bantam League, has been to one Pro Bowl (2006), a plateau the ponytailed Satele continues to work toward.

Maybe this is his time. After two years with Miami and another three as part of the Oakland Raiders, Satele’s presence has been vital in the Colts’ 7-4 record. Statistical rankings aside — the team is fifth in the NFL in total offense (386.0 yards) and seventh in passing yardage (277.7) — Satele with 11 starts this season is instrumental in the development of rookie quarterback Andrew Luck.

Just as Saturday and Peyton Manning had a language all their own, both verbal and body, so do Satele and Luck.

Satele came to training camp at Anderson University in the summer having previously worked with Carson Palmer in Oakland and Chad Henne, Trent Green and Josh McCown in Miami. Satele had a five-year head start on Luck, which helped pave the way for immediate chemistry between the two.

“I told everyone the first day Andrew came into the huddle, ‘This kid is going to be good,’” Satele said. “He can read my mind. He’s a very smart kid. It’s just about being on the same page.”

As a native of Hawaii, Satele, who is of Samoan ancestry, would love nothing more than to fly home in late-January to play in the NFL Pro Bowl. If Luck is one of the AFC quarterbacks invited to retrieve his snaps, all the better.

Manti Te'o loses Heisman, gains "motivation"

 By Mark Lazerus on December 8, 2012 9:17 PM

About a half hour after Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was named the winner of the 78th Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o no longer looked like the man at the end of a week of unceasing travel, photo ops and media obligations.

He sounded happy. Relieved. And not just a little fired up.

"I just felt that burn," he said when asked what it felt like to hear someone else's name called. "I can't really describe it. I just felt that burn -- hey, gotta get better."

Te'o called it "motivation." Motivation for the 30 days that lay ahead, as top-ranked Notre Dame prepares to face No. 2 Alabama on Jan. 7 in the BCS national championship game. That's something on which Te'o can finally focus, when he lands in South Bend early Monday morning after taking the red-eye home from southern California, where he attended the Lott IMPACT award ceremony -- the last of eight trophies for which he was a finalist.

"It's motivation," Te'o said. "I always wanted to be the best. I just use that as motivation to be the best I can be. Obviously, I have a lot of work to do. I'm just excited to get back and get things cracking. ... Go back home, see all my brothers, get back into the groove of things. Get the pads back on, smack around some guys, study a lot of film. That's what I love about all this time, I have weeks and weeks to study film. Usually, I'll have about three days to study film, but now I've got three weeks to study film."

Some of Te'o's teammates -- including nose guard Louis Nix III, whom Te'o told a national TV audience would get his Heisman vote if he had one, and DaVaris Daniels -- took to Twitter to express their displeasure with the results. It was motivation for them, too.

"That's family, man," Te'o said. "That's what families are all about. And that's what our team is all about. ... They all just blew up my phone just now."

Te'o took some solace in the fact that he earned more points -- 1,706, including 321 first-place votes -- than any strictly defensive player ever had. And while Irish coach Brian Kelly had said that if Te'o didn't win the Heisman, it should just be recalibrated as an offensive award, Te'o disagreed that a defensive player can never win the award, pointing to the sheer volume of votes for him. And he laughingly apologized to the masses back home in Hawaii, who gathered for a huge watch party.

But more than anything, Te'o was eager -- excited and invigorated, even -- to get off the awards circuit, and get back to the grind.

"I did the best I could do, and I'm happy with that," Te'o said. "I wish I could have came first, obviously, but it gives me motivation and gives me fire to come back and get better. Obviously, what I did wasn't good enough. And I felt I could do better, and that's exactly what's going to happen."

Manti Te'o named College Football Sportsman of the Year

Notre Dame football fans hope that Irish linebacker and captain Manti Te'o will receive the biggest honor in college football next week.

Te'o is expected to be named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy on Monday, with the presentation the following Saturday in New York City.

Thursday, Te'o received another tremendous honor for his contributions away from the field--named the College Football Sportsman of the Year by the Awards and Recognition Association.

"I'm a direct result of the young man my parents raised and the values that they instilled in me," Te'o said Thursday. "I'm very happy and honored to be recognized and to represent this school, this community and my family."

Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick said the A.R.A. committee has chosen well.

"It's hard to imagine a more deserving candidate of an award that carries that characteristics of this one than Manti," Swarbrick said.

Te'o just wrapped up his final classes at Notre Dame. He graduates next month, earning his degree in just three and a half years. He's been heavily involved in the local community giving back to kids.

Swarbrick says Te'o embodies Notre Dame in a way very few athletes embody their team.

"Maybe a Peyton Manning in Indianapolis, maybe a Derek Jeter in New York, maybe a Bill Bradley at Princeton---but in the history of sports, it's rare," Swarbrick explained. "We have been very fortunate at Notre Dame in the last four year--culminating with this year--to have a student athlete that so perfectly captures the values of the institution."

Te'o continued to give credit to his parents.

"Parents that took the time to show me what I should do and show me by example, the person I should become," Manti explained. "I hope I made them proud."

"This award has shown me to a certain extent, I did listen to them when I was younger," Manti added with a laugh."

Jesse Sapolu: 4-Time Super Bowl Champ Reflects On How Samoan Culture Shaped His Career

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 1:32 am
Written by: Jesse Sapolu

Jesse Sapolu played 15 NFL seasons, winning four Super Bowls with the 49ers and earning two trips to the Pro Bowl. He did this despite a torn aortic heart valve, a dangerous condition that left him short of breath at times. In his new book, I Gave My Heart To San Francisco, Sapolu reveals this secret and recounts his journey to the NFL. Born in Samoa and raised in Hawaii, Sapolu has special appreciation for the success he achieved in pro football when he knows that so many others had the more typical American upbringing. In this excerpt, Sapolu writes about how his heritage helped define him as a football player and a person.

When I chose the University of Hawaii over schools from the Pac-10 and the Big Ten, one of the most important factors was the ability to play in front of my extended family.

In my mind I knew that when I chose my school, I would not only be playing for Farrington High School and my little town of Kalihi, but I would be representing the entire state every single time I strapped on my helmet. The pride of representing the people I grew up with far outweighed playing in the spotlight of the Pac-10 and Big Ten.

Being of Samoan ancestry and raised in Hawaii, I feel very blessed and honored to be part of two proud cultures. The two cultures are similar in that RESPECT and HUMILITY are of utmost importance. It is a high priority to represent yourself, your family, and your people with humility which in return earns you respect. I understood early with both cultures that it doesn't matter what your accomplishments might be, if you’re not humble, accomplishments mean absolutely nothing to them.

It is a thought that never left me. Whether it was winning a Super Bowl or simply stepping on a field for practice; everyone deserves to be treated with respect. Represent your family and your people in a way that would make them proud, win or lose.

My three sons (Luke, London and Roman) have heard me say many times during training sessions, "Be humble. You don't have to be loud to carry a big stick, just be loud when you buckle up your chinstrap." It is what Coach Tony Dungy calls "quiet strength."

Becoming a Samoan Chief

In 2004, I traveled to Samoa with an ESPN film crew for a documentary called "Polynesian Power." It featured NFL players, Pisa Tinoisamoa and Isaac Sopoaga; one grew up on the island of Tutuila and the other on the streets of Southern California and both made it to the NFL.

In completing the documentary, the film crew wanted the only living royalty, King Malietoa Tanumafili III, to give the two boys his blessing on film. When they called the Prime Minister's office about the documentary, they were advised the Samoan player that is the most wellknown in Samoa is Jesse Sapolu and that he's a
four-time Super Bowl ring holder.

The film crew called up Papaliitele Tihati Thompson in Honolulu to speak with me about traveling to Samoa with them. We already had planned a mini-vacation, but they offered to take Lisa (my wife and partner) and my youngest son, Roman, on a vacation to Samoa.

Following the filming of the two boys presenting their gifts to King Malietoa, Chief Seiuli, who speaks on behalf of the King, said a long speech about how proud Samoa is of me and my representation of our country. The Highness Malietoa Tanumafili III said that he would like to bestow the High Chief title of Seiuli on me for my work on the gridiron and also because my mother was from the village of Sapapalii which gives me legal claim to the chief title. I was so honored because I understood the noble respect of such a title. I sat there stunned for about a minute. Finally the Deputy Prime Minister Misa Telefoni looked over at me and asked, "So what do you think about the honor presented?” In the history of Samoa, no one has ever turned down a request or an honor from the Head of State and I wasn’t about to become the first.

The Seuili chief title was bestowed upon me. The chief titles come with a description (fa'alagiga). It is of utmost importance in a Samoan speech to know all the descriptions of the chiefs that are in the room or venue you're speaking at; failure to acknowledge properly will label the recipient as an incompetent speaker.

The description of my Chief Title Seiuli is the son of the Malietoa (alo ole Malietoa). Malietoa was the last living King of Samoa. The chief title given by King Malietoa is cherished by the Samoan people.

People protested in disagreement of giving the chief title to a person living abroad. The assumption was the chief title was given to me strictly because I had won four Super Bowls.

There was jealousy and backlash, but when they found out my mother lived in the village of Sapapalii, the village of King Malietoa and where the title Seiuli is rooted, the negativity stopped. The experience was interesting; a few I thought were friends were some of the protestors. I stayed quiet through the whole process, but it was a very painful learning experience.

Independent Samoa gave me a passport with the name Seiuli Manase Jesse Sapolu. In 1977, at 16 years of age, I became a naturalized citizen; becoming a naturalized citizen before the age of 18 allows changes to a given name. My mom decided to name me after my grandfather Manase and made Jesse my middle name.

I am still known as Jesse Sapolu, but because of 9/11 security measures Manase Jesse Sapolu is used a lot more today. My kids make fun of me because I went from Jesse Sapolu to Manase Jesse Sapolu and when I became a chief it became Seiuli Manase Jesse Sapolu. Being made fun of at home is just part of my everyday life with my children.

American Samoa has a population of nearly 60,000 and football is very popular. In the 1970s and 80s, a family would move from Pago Pago to the states before a child was of high school age to be discovered by colleges and universities, but now it is common place for a player to be recruited straight out of high school from the islands. For example, Paul Soliai of the Miami Dolphins came straight from the islands to the University of Utah.

Over fifty years ago Western Samoa became an independent country. There are many gifted athletic people waiting for NFL glory. I tell anyone who will listen, "It’s time for us to go over there and pick them up." Independent Samoa is a top 10 rugby team in the world almost every year, which is incredible considering the size of the country.
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In my culture, every family has a chief, with a separate chief's name; that family lives in a village, and every village has high chiefs. The protocol is similar to football in the respect shown to coaches. Coaches love Polynesian players because they are very respectful and usually quiet; nobody mouths off. That's just the way we grew up. Very seldom do we display anger.

Of course, that is unless we are challenged or disrespected. A lot of college coaches have a Polynesians on their staff for recruitment purposes. In the football clinics during the early 80s in Samoa only four or five kids out of 500 had shoes and that was on a good day. Now every kid wears Nike or Reebok; times have changed.

Polynesian Respect

Speaking of respect, we all lost a friend and brother recently. The late Junior Seau was a great player and man. We attended his funeral and one of his college teammates, Titus Tuiasosopo, shared a story about being in the weight room at USC with a restless Junior who was pacing back and forth. Titus asked him what was wrong; Junior said, "I just found out my girlfriend is pregnant. Can you come with me so I can tell my mom?" He replied, "I'm not going with you because your mom is going to beat you and just because I'm with you she's going to beat me, too."

Junior was afraid of his mother's reaction and punishment, but family and respect in the Polynesian community is highly honored. I think his mom did beat him and I bet he stood there and took it. You don't talk back or disrespect your parents in our culture. It is hard for today's generation because of the American influence, but still, talking back to your parents in the Samoan household is not allowed. Even if you do not agree with your elders, you have no choice but to accept it.

My childhood journey created my obsession and pushed me to overcome a secret heart condition. I was very proud of the fact that I never gave up throughout my career. The peaceful feeling instilled in me through my faith made me believe all things were possible; with all the dedication and sacrifice to make it to the Super Bowl, there was indeed some luck attached, but I believe it was my parents' constant prayer that has guided me throughout my life and NFL career.

-- Excerpted by permission from I Gave My Heart To San Francisco by Jesse Sapolu. Copyright (c) 2012 by Jesse Sapolu. Published by Celebrity Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Available for purchase at Celebrity Publishng and Amazon.

Notre Dame's Manti Te'o wins Lombardi Award

The Associated Press – Wed, Dec 5, 2012 11:15 PM EST

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o poses with the Lombardi Award after a ceremony, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, in Houston. Te'o, also a Heisman Trophy finalist, …
HOUSTON (AP) -- Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o won the Lombardi Award on Wednesday as college football's best lineman or linebacker.

Te'o, also a Heisman Trophy finalist, had 103 tackles and seven interceptions this year to help the undefeated Fighting Irish reach the BCS championship game against Alabama.

''It's the big dance,'' Te'o said about the title game. ''It is something that you dream about when you are little and for me to be in that game and playing against a real good Alabama team, it will be a perfect end to this chapter in my life.''

Te'o edged Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones, Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones and South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney for the award presented by the Rotary Club of Houston.

''You look at my highlights and you look at their highlights, I'm a big fan of their highlights,'' Te'o said.

''When you look at the company I am with - Jarvis, JC, Barrett - all guys that have proven themselves many, many times. For me to walk away with it, I am just very, very grateful. All of those guys are deserving of the trophy as well, so it is just a great experience and great opportunity for me.''

On Monday, Te'o won the Dick Butkus Award as the best linebacker, and the Bronko Nagurski Award as the nation's top defensive player.

Te'o will be in New York on Saturday for the Heisman Trophy presentation. The other finalists are Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Kansas State's Collin Klein, both quarterbacks.

''It's special for me because I get to represent Notre Dame and represent my family on the national stage, and so, I am just very excited,'' Te'o said. ''I am very excited to get to know those other two guys.''

Notre Dame's Te'o wins Butkus Award

1:40 p.m. CST, December 3, 2012
Manti Te'o won the first-ever high school Butkus Award four years ago.

He can now add the college version to the mantel.

The Notre Dame linebacker was named winner of the Butkus Award on Monday, outdistancing Georgia's Jarvis Jones and Alabama's C.J. Mosley.

The award goes to the top linebacker in the nation and is selected by a panel of 51 coaches, recruiters, scouts and journalists coordinated by Pro Football Weekly. Te'o finished 2012 with 103 tackles and seven interceptions for the nation's No. 1 scoring defense.

"Manti Te’o embodies the toughness, intensity, competitiveness and on-field demeanor of a throwback performer like Dick Butkus himself," Pro Football Weekly publisher Hub Arkush said in a statement announcing the honor.

"Te’o was the first ever High School Butkus winner (2008), and he has lived up to all the expectations and positioned his team for a chance at the national championship. He has been an inspiration to his team and community, and has serves as a model citizen."

A bigger award could loom on his horizon Monday: Te'o is likely to be named a Heisman Trophy finalist later in the day.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Stephen Paea can thank No. 1 ‘fam’ for dream come true with Bears

BY ADAM L. JAHNS ajahns@suntimes.com November 3, 2012 12:04AM

Stephen Paea might have been a grocer in Tonga. Instead, his family’s sacrifices and support have allowed him to become the Bears’ starting nose tackle. | Jonathan Daniel~Getty Images

Stephen Paea’s mother, Ana, joyfully recalls one of her favorite memories of her son, the Bears’ starting nose tackle.

‘‘When they were 9 to 10 months old, I would give them bottles of milk,’’ Ana said. ‘‘His [twin] brother would only drink 3 or 4 ounces and start dozing off. Stephen would chug his eight ounces, sit up and throw it like a ball.
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‘‘Then he would look at William sleeping with his bottle and would just pull the bottle from William, lay down and start drinking. William would either fall asleep or get up and cry. Stephen would go on eating and never give it back.

‘‘He was such a big baby.’’

It’s a fond memory before what would become a roller-coaster ride for her family, Ana said.

Paea’s rise to being a key cog in the NFL’s best defense is a unique immigrant success story. He has gone from the island nation of Tonga to a high school in Kansas to Snow College in Utah to Oregon State and finally to the Bears.

Through it all, there has been his unrelenting desire to succeed for his family, who sacrificed and supported him immensely along his own self-described roller-coaster ride to the NFL.

‘‘[My success] wasn’t so much for myself, but for my family,’’ Paea said. ‘‘I’m grateful for everything.’’

The family man

Ana said her family lived comfortably in Tonga, and Stephen could have been a grocer like others, but she wanted a better life for her children. So they went after the American Dream when Paea was a teenager.

‘‘I tell my sons to never forget that we come from a very poor family and that compared to people in America, we are very poor,’’ she said. ‘‘We thank God every day for the blessings that we have.’’

Their path included a four-day bus ride to Kansas from California through the snow. Ana took out loans and worked as a caregiver in California while her sons went to high school in Kansas and Utah and Paea’s father, Ben, handled an importing business in Samoa.

The very close family was literally far apart.

‘‘They had to learn a lot in hard ways,’’ Ana said.

Football, though, brought them together. Where Paea went, his family followed him or financed him. Earnings are always shared among family members.

After failing to attract serious interest from Division I schools, Paea went to Snow College. Despite limited playing time, he caught Oregon State’s interest; it became the only school to offer him a scholarship. He earned an associate’s degree in just one year at Snow, fulfilling a family promise, and moved on to Oregon State, where he became a two-time conference defensive lineman of the year and a legitimate NFL prospect.

Injuries, including tearing his lateral meniscus in his knee at the 2011 Senior Bowl, never slowed him.

Now it’s Paea, whom the Bears took with the 53rd pick in 2011, who’s supporting his family.

‘‘It’s the same thing as football, where I’m part of 11 guys on the defense,’’ said Paea, who has a daughter, Leimana, with his wife and college sweetheart, Susannah. ‘‘I’ve got to do my job. Everybody’s got to do their job. For me to be a part of the family, I do my job, which is supplying for my family, and they do the job of supporting me. It plays both ways. I have nothing to complain about. I love my family to death.”

The rising player

Paea’s goal is to have his entire family present for the Bears’ ‘‘Monday Night Football’’ matchup in San Francisco on Nov. 19.

‘‘My dad hasn’t watched any of my NFL games, and neither has my sister [Ramona],’’ Paea said.

His mother and his three brothers live in California, while his father and sister still work in Samoa. Paea and his mother are working to secure a green card for his father and a working visa for Ramona with Paea’s sponsorship.

When they get here, what they’ll see is a player who fills a critical role for the Bears. Paea has started the last six games and has 10 tackles, two tackles-for-loss and a sack.

‘‘I look at [nose tackle] as a pretty glorious position,’’ Bears defensive line coach Mike Phair said. ‘‘He’s doing a good job with it. He’s a key guy in our front doing the dirty work.’’

Phair said Paea’s quickness stands out. Defensive end Corey Wootton praised his strength and his ability to stay low, which the Bears say isn’t best exemplified by the 49 reps of 225 pounds he benched at the NFL Combine.

‘‘A lot of people don’t play as strong as they are,’’ Wootton said. ‘‘He plays as strong as he is.’’

“The biggest thing,’’ added defensive tackle Matt Toeaina, ‘‘is his humility. He would never boast about himself.’’

To be humble is a family lesson and trait, Paea said.

Of course it is.

‘‘I can’t explain it,’’ Ana said. ‘‘Would you believe it if you came here not even 10 years ago and you see your son playing in the NFL? It’s still a very emotional subject.’’

But a good one.

Te’o A Role Model Worth Watching

By Steve Murray on Nov 06, 2012 in Hot Air, Sports

Manti Te’o has Notre Dame thinking national championship. AP photo
Since 1964, The Word of Life Mural, better known as Touchdown Jesus, has watched over the South Bend campus of Notre Dame University and the world’s third-greatest symbol of Catholicism, Notre Dame Stadium. In the mosaic’s shadow have paraded countless false idols from the Four Horseman to Lou Holtz, but after decades of glory, God and unquestioned marketing genius, the Fighting Irish have a figure truly worthy of special admiration. Not idolization. That wouldn’t be appropriate.

Manti Te’o is not the best linebacker to ever play college football, nor is he the most talented to ever don the golden helmet. He’s not even the best defender in the last handful of seasons – that would be former Nebraska defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh – nor is he a serious Heisman Trophy candidate, as voters have been programmed to look nowhere but at two offensive positions. But he is an inspiration, more off the field than on, and that’s saying something.

Te’o is a great football player and will be a blessing to whatever team and community he next calls home.

(Sudden sidebar rant: As of this writing, the Lions are 2-4, the Tigers are down 0-2 in the World Series, the Pistons stink and who knows when the Red Wings will get back on the ice? It may still be halftime in America, but it’s still gloomy in the Motor City and a stud linebacker with a deep concern for those less fortunate is sorely needed in an area big on dreams but low on hope. It’s time to be Terrible for Te’o. Self-serving rant concluded.)

It’s his athletic skills that will determine his future financial security, but it is the second part of the pre-rant sentence that makes Te’o sadly more unique.

No, he isn’t the only athlete doing good in his community, but in a nation centered on self-interest his successful efforts to be more than just a great football player are noteworthy. No more so than when he reached out to a family on the very day their 12-year-old daughter, who was a huge Notre Dame fan, died of leukemia.

The emailed letter was a private two-page note to a family he never met. It may have remained a secret if not for a family friend who tipped off Fox Sports columnist Greg Couch, who had earlier written an article about the linebacker’s worthiness of the Heisman. As it was, the family only allowed a small portion of the letter to be published, and Te’o isn’t talking about it except to say he’s just following the examples set down by his parents, Brian and Ottilia.

But that, and his religious faith, are all you need to know.

Te’o has succeeded as a person not because of ancient spiritual teachings nor tough parental love, but because of a moral foundation not based on self.

I’m not suggesting that the betterment of society is found in the dogma of Christianity. I have perhaps too healthy a fear of organized religion, political parties or any organization that tries to control thought or moral behavior with a singular world view. But one can’t deny that his upbringing, both in the Mormon church and out, has shaped Te’o into the person he is.

Psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg’s seminal work on moral development, while not without its critics, divides moral growth into six stages. The most developed stage, universal ethical principles, says that people at this level believe moral reasoning is based on universal ethical principles, and that a person should act in a moral way because it is right, not because of any legal requirement or popular opinion. It’s definitely not based on self-interest, which Kohlberg puts at stage two, or at the moral level of a child.

As a devout Mormon, Te’o was expected to go to BYU. When he decided not to, many took it as an offense to the church. As Te’o said in a March 2009 MidWeek cover story, “Everybody wanted me to go somewhere. I was being pulled in all directions and I just relied on my parents, the Lord and the Heavenly Father to direct me.”

It’s what Kohlberg means about moral acts not being judged by social contracts. It’s also what makes him unique among the many who believe that with great power comes great opportunity for self-reward.

Morning tipoff: Coverboy Siva

Posted on November 7, 2012 by C. L. Brown

Peyton Siva is on a regional cover of regional Sports Illustrated (out on newsstands today) for their college basketball preview section.

Oddly enough as this team moves forward I think Siva will fade to the background. I don’t expect his play to fall off, quite the opposite. I think he’s bound to be so consistent that his play is taken for granted.

“Peyton’s really, really developed into a great point guard,” coach Rick Pitino said. “Now he’s always pivoting in the lane rather than just leaving his feet and throwing it away. He’s always dribbling it back out and looking for another hole.”

Basically, all the things we saw Siva do in the 2012 Big East Tournament, for which he was Most Outstanding Player, and the run to the Final Four.

The Siva who stumbled through the start of last season? Pitino believes that version of Siva is a distant memory:

“Everything that we put into it for four years has come to the forefront right now, he’s a tremendous point guard. If there’s a better point guard in America than him, I want to see it. And I won’t say it’s been that way the past three years, it hasn’t been. He showed strong glimpses of it in the tournament last year. But he’s really playing great basketball right now.”

Haloti Ngata plays with the band...

Pitoitua taking well to KC & likes Leach hire

SAN DIEGO -- He won’t make anyone forget Buck Buchanan, but Ropati Pitoitua is making a name for himself in Kansas City. “The opportunities I’ve been given, I’m just trying to make the most of them whenever I get a chance,” Pitoitua told Cougfan.com Sunday in San Diego following the Chiefs' game with the Chargers.

The former standout Washington State d-lineman has taken advantage of the absence of starting defensive end Glenn Dorsey, who has missed three games this season with injuries. Although Pitoitua isn’t making Chiefs fans forget about Dorsey either, he is making strides and is showing he’s a capable performer when the club is without No. 5 overall of 2008 NFL Draft.

And with his humble nature, Pitoitua is just enjoying the ride.

“It’s been good,” he said of his playing time. “I’m still learning. But I just try to do the best I can out there.”

In seven games with the Chiefs, his first season with the club, Pitoitua already has surpassed the numbers he put up in four years with the New York Jets. And unlike New York, where he never started a game, he has started three with the Chiefs.

Pitoitua has 20 tackles, 14 of them solo this season. He had a career-high six, two for losses, and a pair of sacks in the Chiefs’ 37-20 loss to the Chargers on Sept. 30 in Kansas City. In the 31-13 setback at San Diego this past weekend, Potoitua recorded four tackles.

It hasn’t all been peaches and cream, though. Actually, it’s been a tough season to swallow for Pitoitua. The AFC West cellar-dwelling Chiefs (1-7) have lost their last five games heading into Sunday’s contest at Pittsburgh. And they haven’t led during regulation all season. Kansas City’s lone victory was a 27-24 overtime win over the New Orleans Saints in Week 3.

“It’s been hard obviously with the season and the way it’s been going,” Pitoitua said. “We’re just trying to work every day and trying to get better, trying to fix it. That’s all we can do right now, play one game at a time and try to get better. We’ve got to get better.”

It’s been a slow climb for Pitoitua since his rookie season in 2008, when he signed with the Jets as an undrafted free agent out of WSU. He made the team but barely played in New York and spent the 2010 season on injured reserve with an Achilles injury.

Overall, the 6-8, 315-pounder appeared in 22 games, finishing with 22 tackles, three for losses, and a sack. Most of those came in his final season, when he registered 19 tackles in 14 games.

But he has found new life in Kansas City, signing with the club in May after the Jets released him.

At WSU, the Clover Park High star emerged in 2006, when he recorded 37 tackles -- 16 solo and 7.5 for losses. He also had 2.5 sacks.

In his 12 starts as a senior, he finished with 42 tackles and earned the Leon Bender Award as WSU's top defensive lineman.

Potoitua, 27, a Samoa native, who calls Spanaway home, has cherished memories of playing for the Cougars and former coach Bill Doba.

“It was a great experience with Doba,” he said. “I learned a lot from those guys.”

He also believes Mike Leach is a good fit for WSU.

“Oh yeah, I like what I’m seeing on the field right now,” Pitoitua said. “They’ll get it turned around.”

Manti Te'o were named to the Cpaital One Academic All-District V team

Golic Jr., Te'o named academic all-district
November, 8, 2012
Nov 8
By Matt Fortuna | ESPN.com

Mike Golic Jr. and Manti Te'o were named to the Cpaital One Academic All-District V team Thursday, CoSIDA announced.

To be nominated, players must have a minimum 3.3 GPA, be through with sophomore year, be a starter of key reserve and be nominated by an SID.

Golic and Te'o are now on the national ballot, which will help decide a first- and second-team this month.

Currently enrolled in the graduate studies program, Golic graduated in May from the College of Arts and Letters with a degree in film, television and theatre with a 3.429 cumulative GPA. He was selected this year to the Allstate Good Works team for community and classroom leadership, and he will be honored during this year's Sugar Bowl.

Te'o, who holds a 3.324 GPA, is a design major in the College of Arts and Letters and will graduate in December. The National Football Foundation named Te'o a national scholar-athlete earlier this season.

Maualuga has 77 tackles in nine games. He is currently on pace for the first 100-tackle season of his career

Maualuga totaled a team-high 12 tackles (three solo) and one pass defense Week 10 vs. N.Y. Giants. It was the fourth time this season Maualuga has had at least 10 tackles.
 Maualuga has 77 tackles in nine games. He is currently on pace for the first 100-tackle season of his career. Yet, he is only started in less than 10 percent of IDP leagues. Maualuga doesn't get a lot of sacks, interceptions or pass defenses, but he is worthy of at least a mid-level Fantasy start in IDP formats.
(Updated 11/11/12).

Alameda Ta'amu apologizes for incident, his second DUI charge since 2009 99

By Neal Coolong on Nov 9, 6:41a

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

he Steelers rookie was charged with drunken driving, destruction of property and resisting arrest for an alleged incident on the South Side in October. He waived his right to a preliminary trial Thursday. He was arrested but not convicted of DUI in December, 2009.

Making his first public statement since being arrested for drunken driving, aggravated assault, aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI and fleeing an officer. He also is charged with leaving the scene of an accident, DUI and escape, all misdemeanors, in addition to several summary driving offenses, according to the Post-Gazette.

Prosecutors dropped three counts of aggravated assault.

"I'm receiving help and trying to move forward," he said. " 'Sorry' is the only word I can say."

It wasn't the first time Ta'amu was charged with drunken driving. According to the Post-Gazette, he was charged for DUI in December, 2009, but plead guilty to negligent driving.

Ta'amu has the support of the Steelers, whether directly in his desire to get help, or implied, by keeping him on the roster, when they easily could have released him upon the completion of the team-imposed two-game suspension he served in Weeks 7-8. They've kept him on the roster, and there hasn't been any official statement from the team on that decision.

Ta'amu, a fourth-round draft pick out of Washington, hasn't been activated for any game this season, and likely won't be.

Ravens DT Haloti Ngata Says Injury Is Really Limiting Him

Filed Under: afc, afcnorth, injury, nfl, ravens, rumor
Posted By: SteveRobWhatever 2 Days Ago #1

Ravens Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata began this season in dominating form, chasing down quarterbacks and tossing aside blockers to tackle running backs.

Since damaging his right shoulder and spraining the medial collateral ligament in his right knee, Ngata hasn't been the same player in recent weeks due to his injuries.

"Now, it's limiting me," Ngata told The Baltimore Sun. "I just can't do what I want to do most of the time."

Ngata was able to record six tackles and a sack against the Dallas Cowboys three games ago despite dealing with the injury, but his impact has declined over the last two games.

He had two tackles in a blowout loss to the Houston Texans and then was shut out against Cleveland as rookie running back Trent Richardson gained 105 yards on the ground.

Ngata said he has no desire to take a week off to recuperate, adding that he doesn't think he'll need surgery to remedy the problems.

"Nah, definitely not," he said. "It's too important to win games. I think it will heal in time. I don't think I'll need surgery. It's just limiting me."

Source: Baltimore Sun

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

QB Recruit Most Likely to Play as a Freshman

Dallas Jackson

QUARTERBACK RANKINGS: Pro-style | Dual-threat

Dallas Jackson is the National Columnist for Rivals.com. Email him your comments or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

If the Rivals.com recruiting rankings hold form, the high school quarterback crop for the Class of 2013 might have the biggest yield since the rankings began.

With 31 players rated as four-star prospects or higher, it is perceived to be the most talented combination of pro-style and dual-threat QBs since the Class of 2002, when 29 players received a four-star evaluation or higher. That is well above the average class evaluation of 20 players ranked at that level.

The class is headlined by five-stars Max Browne of Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline and Warren (Mich.) De La Salle signal-caller Shane Morris, as well as fast-rising Christian Hackenberg from Fork Union (Va.) Military. And all three could see regular playing time as soon as next season.

But the player who might make the quickest impact is below that stratosphere, if not below the radar: Four-star quarterback Anu Solomon, who will head to Arizona upon graduation from Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman. He'll be thrust into a competition to take over for senior quarterback Matt Scott.

Anu Solomon could be walking into the perfect situation at Arizona.

"The coaches have told me that they want me to come in and compete for the starting job," Solomon said. "It is something that I want to do, and they want me to do it."

The 6-foot-1, 200-plus-pound Solomon is ranked as the No. 10 dual-threat quarterback and just outside of the Rivals250. The four-year starter at Bishop Gorman has led the team to three consecutive state titles and is favored to do it again.

Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said that Solomon has the tools to transition quickly to the next level.

"There are two major things to consider for guys playing as true freshmen," Farrell said. "You have to be athletically mature enough to do it, and you have to be a good enough decision-maker and to do what is asked of you.

"The quickest way to lose a quarterback battle is to be turnover-prone, and Solomon doesn't turn the ball over."

But what makes Solomon the best bet for immediate playing time is the situation at Arizona when compared to those Browne, Hackenberg and Morris will face.

Browne, the top-ranked quarterback in the entire class, has drawn comparisons to Peyton Manning and may be the most college ready player of the group. But he is headed to USC from a spread offense in high school and will have to learn a pro-style offense. In a battle to replace Matt Barkley, he will be behind two quarterbacks who were four-star prospects and all-Americans during their time in high school, Cody Kessler and Max Wittek.

USCFootball.com recruiting analyst Gerard Martinez said Browne could challenge for time, but believes the odds are low.

"It's a possibility," he said. "I would say it is not likely, but with Browne coming in for spring football, it is not out of the question."

Penn State coach Bill O'Brien has been heralded for his tutelage of quarterbacks, and while Matt McGloin is leaving, that does not mean PSU will rush Hackeberg.

Most indications are that Hackenberg and his family would prefer to redshirt and learn the system. Penn State is heavily recruiting JUCO quarterback Jake Waters from Iowa Western, who could be an excellent stopgap.

While Max Browne, Shane Morris, Christian Hackenberg and Anu Solomon may be the most obvious choices to make an early impact as freshmen, they are far from the only possibilities. Here are five additional prospects who could battle for early playing time as true freshmen:
Aaron Bailey, Bolingbrook (Ill.) High
Rank: No. 147 in the Rivals250; committed to Illinois
Buzz: Bailey just went down with a minor knee injury last week but figures to be ready for a playoff push. He also figures to be an exciting addition to an Illinois roster that will include senior Nathan Scheelhaase. There are some other talented players hoping to step up, but Bailey appears to be the most athletically gifted.

Jeremy Johnson, Montgomery (Ala.) Carver
Rank: No. 191 in theRivals250; committed to Auburn
Buzz: Johnson is a freak of an athlete who is also a four-star basketball prospect, but he has seen his stock skyrocket on the football field and could quickly climb the depth chart at Auburn. The play of current quarterback Khiel Frazier has been spotty at best, and the rest of the depth chart looks lackluster to say the least. Johnson's ability to throw the deep pass and solid footwork could impress coaches quickly.

Johnathon McCrary, Ellenwood (Ga.) Cedar Grove
Rank: No. 123 in the Rivals250; committed to Vanderbilt
Buzz: McCrary has all of the physical tools that the Commodores currently lack at the position, and there will be a battle for the position this offseason for sure. Senior Austyn Carta-Samuels or redshirt freshman Patton Robinette may have a built-in advantage because of the familiarity with the system, but eliminating McCrary and his type of talent early in the competition doesn't sound like a solid plan for a program that wants to attract top talent and has playing time to offer.

Brogan Roback, Toledo (Ohio) St. John's
Rank: No. 15 pro-style quarterback; committed to Eastern Michigan
Buzz: Sticking out like a sore thumb is the four-star Roback's commitment to Eastern Michigan. What may stick out for Broback is that the team has used two quarterbacks so far this season, and neither has a completion percentage above 48 percent. The level of talent that Roback could bring to the Ypsilanti campus may be tapped into early.

Asiantii Woulard, Winter Park (Fla.) High
Rank: No. 87 in the Rivals100; committed to USF
Buzz: The exit of B.J. Daniels will leave the Bulls with senior Bobby Eveld and sophomores Tommy Eveld, Matt Floyd, and Trenton Miller as the quarterbacks on the roster; none come in with the skills of Woulward. The Bulls have had a tough start to this season and could be in need of an electric, semi-local product to bring some energy back into the program. Woulward could also prove to be the most talented player at the position, and this school has historically had no problem with using freshman quarterbacks.
Farrell thinks Penn State could take that path to improve its situation.

"If Penn State had come out this year and been terrible, I don't know what they would have had to do next year," Farrell said. "As it stands now, they could buy some time to right the ship and not force a young player into a firestorm."

Morris does not have the same obstacles to overcome at Michigan. The QB position will be quickly clearing with Denard Robinson set to graduate along with seniors Jack Kennedy and Steve Wilson. That leaves sophomores-to-be Russell Bellomy and Alex Swieca and senior-to-be Devin Gardner ahead of him.

What Morris will be battling is his own health as well as his own limitations. He was diagnosed with mononucleosis early into his senior season and will likely miss the remainder of it.

The No. 17 overall player in the Rivals100 has also completed barely 50 percent of his passes, leading Farrell to question his potential for immediate impact.

"Morris has to improve on his accuracy and decision-making without question," Farrell said. "But honestly, this kid is like Tim Tebow to the Michigan fanbase, and I am not sure I have ever seen a more popular prospect. The pressure to get him on the field may force the hand of Brady Hoke, and really, is Michigan going to put Gardner back in there?"

Solomon, on the other hand, has the history of current Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez playing young quarterbacks on his side.

During his time at West Virginia, Rodriguez used Pat White as a four-year starter, easing him into the role after a battle with Adam Bednarik. White was named the starter at midseason. White would go on to lead the Mountaineers to four bowl wins, including a Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia during his freshman season, and eventually was picked in the second round of the NFL Draft.

More recently, in his brief time at Michigan, Rodriguez played Robinson as a true freshman, easing him in before the QB blossomed as a sophomore.

GoAzCats.com senior editor Tracy McDannald said that Rodriguez has the support of the Arizona athletic department and will be given time to make the program better. That includes the decision to start a freshman if he deems that the best way to proceed.

"Unlike his stint at Michigan, Rodriguez will have the time and confidence from athletic director Greg Byrne," McDannald said. "He sees Rodriguez more as a long-term hire than a quick fix, and he has been pleased with what Arizona has done thus far. A freshman quarterback will not change that commitment to Rodriguez."

The quarterback situation at Arizona is more similar to Michigan than any other as Matt Scott is leaving and it appears there is not a good solution behind him. The roster next year will feature junior college transfer B.J. Denker and Louisiana Tech transfer Nick Isham as well as sophomores-to-be Javelle Allen, Josh Kern and Jack Nykaza. There will also quarterback-turned-receiver options Richard Morrison and Alex Cappellini.

Bishop Gorman head coach Tony Sanchez said that Solomon will be ready to step into the role as a starting quarterback if it is asked of him. He also said that Solomon does not have the wear and tear of other high school QBs, since he had a talented cast around him.

"Size, arm strength, intelligence will not be an issue for him," Sanchez said. "He also has always had a Division I running back by his side with us, and he has never been asked to carry the ball 20 times a game and win games with his legs. He can do it if he needs to, but we have been very good about keeping him fresh."

Sanchez has also been smartly scheduling national caliber opponents to ready his players for the action at the college level.

Solomon has started games against Anaheim (Calif.) Servite, Olney (Md.) Good Counsel, Seffner (Fla.) Armwood, Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic, Concord (Calif.) De La Salle, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral, Phoenix (Ariz.) Brophy, Loomis (Calif.) Del Oro, and Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton.

Farrell believes that exposure is invaluable to the development of a quarterback.

"If this were a quarterback who had just seen Nevada competition for four years, he would be vastly underprepared," Farrell said. "The defenses at Armwood and Good Counsel are loaded with Division I kids, so seeing the speed of the players who will be at the next level gives him a major advantage."

McDannald thinks getting on campus and competing might be enough to make this an easy decision.

"Anybody else would be a complete shock," he said. "But it ultimately comes down to how quickly Solomon impresses the staff and whether they want to throw him into the fire immediately. It should not be difficult for him to quickly move up the depth chart."

Solomon definitely doesn't lack for confidence.

"I haven't been a backup since Pop Warner," he said. "If I can get in and compete, I believe I can be successful early."

Marvin Lewis Says Bengals Won't Bench LB Rey Maualuga

Filed Under: afc, afcnorth, bengals, nfl, rumor
Posted By: SteveRobWhatever 1 Week Ago #1

The Bengals will consider making personnel changes during their bye week but a move at middle linebacker won’t be on the table.

Head coach Marvin Lewis said as much during his Monday news conference before defending Rey Maualuga’s performance at the position.

“To the layman who’s sitting there watching, or whoever is being critical of Rey, they’re probably being overly critical,” Lewis said. “Nobody’s going to tell me more about playing linebacker than what I know. There’s a lot of good things he’s doing. Do we want him to play better and be the best linebacker in the National Football League. And we’ll keep coaching him to be that.”

Maualuga was in for all 73 plays on defense in Sunday’s loss against the Steelers and was credited with eight tackles and one quarterback hit. Lewis said Maualuga has played better in recent weeks than he did Sunday and noted others around the linebacker need to play with more consistency.

“Some of it, it looks like he’s not playing as well because other people aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing and he’s actually doing what he is (supposed to be) doing most of the time,” Lewis said. “Unfortunately, the last run of the game he decides he’s going to be Superman and get out of his responsibility.”

Polamalu on being 'popular' and 'overrated'

October, 27, 2012
Oct 27
By Lynn Hoppes | ESPN.com

Courtesy of Troy Polamalu
On Friday in Pittsburgh, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu held a luau to benefit a couple of charities.
Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu is getting a little restless, missing his fifth game of the season, this Sunday against the Washington Redskins, because of a nagging calf injury.

To keep busy, Polamalu has been spending time with his various charitable ventures. On Friday night, Polamalu held a Polynesian luau to benefit the Harry Panos Fund of the Pittsburgh Foundation and the Troy Polamalu Football Camp.

"To be honest, this is the first fundraising charity event I've ever hosted," said Polamalu, working with Head & Shoulders as title sponsor. "I've been to quite a few, and most times it's just players signing autographs. This is more to showcase the Polynesian culture and help some worthy causes."

Also, during the luau, Polamalu unveiled one of his online courses -- Art Appreciation -- from his School of Deeper Learning.

"This was a chance for everyone to have a good time and learn something," Polamalu said.

Playbook had a few minutes with Polamalu to talk about the event and some "news" that came out this past week.

You're going to miss Sunday's game with the calf injury. What's it like on the sideline for someone as energetic as you?

"I definitely want to be out there. I spend my time in the coach's ear telling him to run this play or that play. In fact, they may want me more on the field because I'm so annoying on the sideline. I try to stay mentally engaged, seeing how the opponent is trying to expose our defense and how we can counter that strategy."

This past week, you were voted the most liked player in the NFL. What is your reaction to that?
"To be honest, my first reaction is that I don't even like myself! Seriously, it's always nice to feel really appreciated. The message I tell to young players is that you represent more than yourself when you're on the field. You represent your family that raised you, your friends, your community that you come from and your culture. That's all I try to do is live my life. I was raised with the fundamental values of my culture, and I'm really conscious of that."

On the other side of the coin, SI.com had a story that you were No. 17 Most Overrated.

"For me, in that poll, they are probably right! I should have been ranked higher! In one sense, they have figured out what I've known all along."

But, outside the injury, it's all good, right?

"I'm blessed, for sure. The one thing that football has given me is an appreciation for a lot of the experiences I have. Even the little things like adversities such as injuries. You now can take a step back and look on your life. I'll be back to playing football soon."

Alameda Ta'amu re-instated by Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL.com Wire Reports
Published: Oct. 29, 2012 at 05:41 p.m.

The Pittsburgh Steelers re-instated rookie nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu on Monday after suspending him without pay two weeks ago following an Oct. 14 incident that led to his arrest.

Ta'amu faces more than a dozen charges, including three felony counts for fleeing police, aggravated assault and aggravated assault by vehicle.
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Daniel Jeremiah identifies three rising superpowers, an underachiever, an overachiever and a true freak of nature. More ...

Ta'amu allegedly led Pittsburgh police on a wild car chase through the city's South Side neighborhood. According to the criminal complaint, police said he hit multiple parked cars, drove on the wrong side of the road and drove his car at officers when they attempted to pull him over. The complaint said police considered shooting, but did not because of the large number of pedestrians and motorists around.

According to The Associated Press, Ta'amu fled on foot once his vehicle became disabled. He then allegedly resisted officers when they tried to arrest him.

Ta'amu took a blood alcohol test and registered .196, twice the legal limit.

Koa Misi could face suspension for taking a plea deal

October 22, 2012|By Omar Kelly, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

DAVIE — Miami Dolphins linebacker Koa Misi pled no contest to felony battery charges and agreed to pay $42,000 to a Santa Barbara County resident he allegedly punched in the face.

 The NFL wouldn't comment on Misi's legal case but a spokesman acknowledged it falls under the NFL's personal conduct policy, and therefore gets evaluated by the commissioner.

Misi could be suspended for a game and/or fined, but that decision hasn't been made.

Defensive lineman Tony McDaniel was suspended one game without pay for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy after pleading guilty to domestic violence charges in 2010.

Prosecutors say a man on an Isla Vista apartment balcony made nasty comments to Misi and his friends as they walked down the street in April 2011. Misi allegedly broke down the apartment door and struck 19-year-old Casey Scott Fisher.

As part of a plea deal, Misi pleaded no contest last Thursday to battery causing serious bodily injury.

The Santa Barbara News-Press reports that Misi paid Fisher for medical expenses and agreed to 400 hours of community service.

The judge is expected to reduce the count to a misdemeanor during sentencing in February.

Misi, who has contributed 33 tackles, 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble in six games, declined to comment on his legal case.

If he's suspended Misi would have to sit out a week of practice too. He attended Monday's practice but the week officially begins for NFL players on Wednesday. McDaniel's suspension occurred a week after his legal issue was resolved.

Notre Dame's Manti Te'o for Heisman? We'll know Sooner than later

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o celebrates a 41-3 victory with teammates and fans earlier this month. (Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press / October 6, 2012)

By Mike Hiserman

October 27, 2012, 10:47 a.m.

Could Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o actually win the Heisman Trophy?

What happens Saturday evening when the Fighting Irish play Oklahoma in Norman could make the senior from Hawaii a legitimate candidate -- maybe even a favorite.

Or it could push him into the background. (Say, whatever happened to Geno Smith's runaway?)

Te'o has a lot of things going for him. First, he's been a model of consistency for a Notre Dame defense that is the biggest reason the Fighting Irish are undefeated and ranked No. 5 headed into the Oklahoma game. He leads Notre Dame with 69 tackles and four interceptions.

He's also known to be humble. And, of course, he has the Notre Dame brand -- and a powerful personal story -- that has helped nudge him into the national consciousness.

Te'o's girlfriend and grandmother passed away within days of each other in September, and Irish fans wore leis and roared their encouragement to him at an emotional rally about a week later that had him fighting back tears.

Brian Bosworth, who in 1986 became one of only two linebackers in recent history to be a Heisman finalist -- Marvin Jones of Florida State in 1992 was the other -- said he thought the personal losses Te'o experienced this season could help fuel his performance.

“They can use a football field for the aggressiveness, turn the volume up to a degree you didn't know you had because you reach into a well that is volcanic," Bosworth told the Chicago Tribune. "Now he's using what has happened in his past, along with what he already knows, to focus that energy.”

Charles Woodson, who won the Heisman in 1997, is the only modern-day winner who played mostly defense.

That defensive players are usually not even considered hurts the award's credibility, Bosworth said, "because it now looks like a stat or highlight award."

Oklahoma, which is ranked No. 8, has an offense that has been providing plenty of highlights, led by quarterback Landry Jones, himself a strong preseason Heisman candidate.

Since losing their third game of the season to Kansas State, the Sooners have put 156 points on the scoreboard in their last three games -- wins over Texas Tech, Texas and Kansas.

If Te'o and the Irish can slow the Sooners and stay undefeated, Notre Dame's national championship hopes become that much more real -- and so do Te'o's chances of beating the Heisman bias.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Oregon Football: Why Marcus Mariota Is a Top Heisman Contender

By Shawn Brubaker (Featured Columnist) on October 20, 2012
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Lost in all the hullabaloo over Geno Smith is the fact that Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is having a Heisman-caliber season in his own right.

That Oregon would be getting elite production out of the quarterback position seems to be taken for granted by now, but Mariota is among the best in a long line of success at Oregon.

As a redshirt freshman, Mariota has 16 passing touchdowns to just five interceptions, while completing over 60 percent of his passes in all but one game this season.

What makes Mariota special, of course, is his ability as a dual-threat quarterback. His 86-yard touchdown against Arizona State on Thursday night was the first of what should be many long touchdown gallops in Mariota's career.

Week in and week out, Mariota puts the Ducks in position to not just win, but dominate.

During one three-week stretch, Mariota threw the ball 95 times in a pass heavy attack. He threw the ball 28 times against Tennessee Tech, 35 against Arizona and 32 against Washington State in three blowout victories. When the game rests on his arm, he dominates.

Even when Mariota's passing is not the focal point of the offense, he is capable of taking over a game, as he proved Thursday. Mariota only threw the ball 12 times, but his running helped the Ducks take complete control. They lead 43-7 midway through the second quarter, allowing them to coast to an easy win.

Likewise, Mariota only threw for 166 yards in a matchup against Fresno State, but he also ran for 67 yards, sparking the Ducks' dominant offense to a 42-25 victory.

Whether on the ground or through the air, Mariota has delivered all season long. Oregon has not scored fewer than 42 points in a game this season, and the brilliant play of Mariota has been the catalyst.

He not only racks up stats himself, but Mariota also makes his teammates better as well. Seven Ducks have managed at least 10 catches this season, as Mariota spreads the ball around better than almost anybody in the country.

His ability to read defenses has also been a major boon for the Ducks, as it has allowed Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas to dominate opposing defenses. The two of them have combined for 1,272 yards on their own, and the team as a whole has 2,220 rushing yards at six yards per carry.

A lesser quarterback would not have this offense operating so effectively, but Mariota is the real deal.

He might not have the flashy stats that Geno Smith has, but Mariota has been every bit as important to Oregon's season. He definitely deserves at least an invite to the Heisman ceremony.

Scott Crichton added to Bednarik Award Watch List

By Lindsay Schnell, The Oregonian
on October 24, 2012 at 4:00 PM, updated October 25, 2012 at 9:42 AM Email | Print

Scott Crichton already has eight sacks on the year for the Oregon State defense.
AP photo
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- Oregon State sophomore defensive end Scott Crichton was among four players added to the 18th annual Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List as announced by the Maxwell Football Club Wednesday. The award annually recognizes the most outstanding defensive player in college football.

Crichton, a native of Tacoma, Wash., has been a force at defensive end since earning a starting job at defensive end as a redshirt freshman in 2011. Crichton, who registered six sacks and 14.5 tackles-for-loss as a freshman, has already has surpassed last year's production with eight sacks during the first half of 2012. His 14 career sacks already ranks tied for ninth in the Oregon State record books. A Freshman All-American in 2011, Crichton set the OSU single season record for forced fumbles as a freshman.

The watch list candidates have been chosen by the Maxwell Football Club's Selection Committee and the Maxwell Club reserves the right to make additions and subtractions to these lists as the 2012 season unfolds. All members of the Maxwell Football Club, NCAA Sports Information Directors, Head Coaches and selected national media are eligible to vote for this award.

Semifinalists for the Bednarik Award will be announced on October 29th and three finalists will be announced November 19th. The winner of the Bednarik Award will be announced as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards Show which will be held on December 6th. The formal presentation of the award will be made at the Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala hosted by Harrah's Entertainment Atlantic City on March 1, 2013.

Troy Polamalu, Drew Brees, Charles Woodson, Peyton Manning Among NFL’s Most Liked Players

By Alex Groberman, Wed, October 24, 2012

Everyone knows who the most disliked players in the NFL are. You don’t really need a poll to determine that. It is the guys who are constantly in the news for underachieving, having bad attitudes, or being dirty. Without any hints whatsoever, most legitimate football fans could probably name three of the five most disliked players with relative ease.

Figuring out who the most liked players are, however, is a little tougher. Recently, Nielson came together with E-Poll Market Research and conducted a poll amongst fans trying to determine which NFL players most appealing to fans.

Here were the top five (via Forbes):

1. Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers

2. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

3. Charles Woodson, Green Bay Packers

4. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

5. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

Three big-name, high-profile quarterbacks being on the list isn’t surprising. This is a pass-first league dominated by guys who know how to command an offense. Rodgers may not have been in as many commercials to date as Manning and Brees, but he has been a fan favorite ever since he first arrived on scene. (Or at least ever since Brett Favre started getting on everyone's nerves.)

Two defensive players being on the list, though, is very intriguing. No one is saying that Polamalu and Woodson aren’t good, likeable guys. It’s just surprising that so many people know how good and likable they are.

More likely than not, if you analyzed the polling data closely, you would probably find that Green Bay and Pittsburgh fans were well represented in the poll. That’s the only legitimate explanation as to why Polamalu and Woodson are at Nos. 1 and 3, respectively.

A Heisman Voter Breaks Down Whether Notre Dame's Manti Te'o Can Win

 By Lisa Horne (Featured Columnist) on October 24, 2012

This is the time of year when a Heisman voter starts narrowing down his or her watch list to the front-runners and the sleepers. In other words, there should be a good feeling about which players have really impressed you and which ones need to do more to move up the list.

As a Heisman voter, the next four to six weeks will be all about my watching every game in which my watch-listers play. Thank goodness for DVR!

I want to make sure that my vote is cast knowing I evaluated every player on my list and paid attention to not only what he did on the field, but also the level of competition he was playing against and how his performances impacted the team.

The Heisman Trophy, according to its mission statement, is awarded to "the most outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity."

This year all of my watch-listers have integrity, and that is important to me. One of my front-runners is Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o.

This young man impresses for so many reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is his character. His commitment to excellence and his perseverance despite personal tragedy is beyond reproach. September 11 is always a day for deep reflection and, for many families, a time of grieving, but Te'o suffered along with the families and friends of the four Americans killed this last September 11 in the Benghazi, Libya terrorist attack.

Te'o's grandmother and girlfriend both died that day, but he still played football the following Saturday four days later. He's committed to the school.

Manti Te'o, up close and personal

Manti Te'o could have declared early for the 2012 NFL draft but instead, he announced at the Lott Trophy Presentation ceremony last December that he would be coming back to Notre Dame.

That resonates with me because he represents the University of Notre Dame so well—the school has always had one of the highest graduation rates among its student athletes. Te'o is also the reason why Notre Dame is 7-0 thus far; its total defense is ranked No. 6 among FBS schools.

The last time a defensive player won the Heisman was in 1997; Michigan's Charles Woodson is the only (primarily) defensive player to have won the Heisman. Will Te'o be the second?

The deck is stacked against Te'o for one—and only one—reason: He doesn't touch the ball enough.

Touches matter because whoever is touching the ball has all attention on him. This explains why quarterbacks and running backs usually win the Heisman and why receivers or defensive players don't.

The human eye follows the ball. The camera follows the ball. The game announcers follow the ball. Rarely do you have all of the attention focused on a linebacker on every play, and that hurts Te'o, unfortunately.

For a defensive player to a Heisman vote, he's got to be in on the action on almost every play. Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh was one of those special players. Suh was named as one of the five Heisman finalists in 2009 but finished in fourth place.

He also won the Bednarik, Lombardi, Nagurski and Outland trophies, and was named the Associated Press College Player of the Year—the only defensive player to have ever won the award.

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Again, no stiff arm means a defensive player has the tougher path and has to be the most noticeable player in every game in which he plays. He has to touch the ball whether it be via interception or fumble, and he has to make that monster sack on the quarterback at a critical juncture of the game.

Te'o will have a big trophy haul this year, no doubt, but he will have to exceed the bar that Suh set to win the 2012 Heisman.

Is it possible? Yes, of course it is. But Notre Dame going 12-0 would help. Sacking or intercepting Landry Jones this Saturday would help more. Getting a game-winning pick six against USC's Matt Barkley would really get voters' attention.

But no interceptions, sacks or forced fumbles from Te'o means limited touches.

Personally, I would love to see a defensive player win the Heisman because his contributions are just as important as that of a quarterback. Or that of a running back.

Te'o has the integrity and outstanding pursuit of excellence checked off. He's an incredible athlete and an incredible person.

But he needs to show me his Heisman moment—I'll be waiting for it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

College Football Recruiting Week 9 Visits That Could Lead to Decommitment

Isaac Savaiinaea to Stanford

This is an interesting visit that Stanford needs to go well, because Savaiinaea is committed to Stanford. He's one of their prized commitments for this class, but is looking around a bit.

If this visit doesn't go perfectly for Stanford, they could see Savaiinaea opt to sign with Texas A&M, Notre Dame or Florida.

Oregon’s rookie quarterback is on the fast track to success QB Marcus Mariota will likely set multiple freshman records

UO Football

By Bob Clark

The Register-Guard

Published: October 24, 2012 12:00AM, Today

In attendance at Autzen Stadium on Saturday will be high school teammates of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, the guys who helped the UO freshman win a Hawaii state title for Saint Louis School.

“I haven’t seen them in a while,” Mariota said. “I’m really looking forward to it.

“I want to put on a good show for them.”

Well, that certainly won’t be anything unusual.

Mariota’s freshman season has been nothing but a success. He’s quarterbacked the second-ranked Ducks to seven victories entering Saturday’s game against Colorado, and his individual numbers are headed for the record books as well.

If he throws three touchdown passes against the Buffaloes, he’ll match the conference record of 19 touchdown passes by a freshman. Mariota is within 115 yards of the total offense record (rushing and passing yards) for a UO freshman. His completion percentage of .683 currently exceeds the UO record for a season.

What hasn’t he done already? His 86-yard touchdown run against Arizona State was the longest ever by a UO quarterback. That run also helped him become the first UO player since Joey Harrington in 2000 to run for a score, throw for a touchdown and have a touchdown reception in the same game.

Wait, he’s a receiver, too?

“I wasn’t totally expecting that,” Mariota said of the flip in his direction from Bryan Bennett, in the lineup along with Mariota for one of Oregon’s two-quarterback alignments. “I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.”

Which could aptly describe his situation with the Ducks. Could a player better fit physically into what Oregon wants from a quarterback — strong arm, fleet feet — than the 6-foot-4, 211-pound Mariota?

And that doesn’t fully describe his abilities as a quarterback.

“He’s just been a guy who kind of got it,” UO offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said. “We haven’t had to limit anything (offensively) because of him.

“It doesn’t make sense to do something your quarterback can’t do or doesn’t have confidence in, but you can advance your unit if that guy can handle a few more things.”

Handle it? Mariota usually excels at it.

In the Pac-12, he ranks third in passing efficiency (155.0) which puts him 20th in the nation, and tops among freshmen. That’s a statistic that combines factors such as yards per attempt and touchdowns (16) compared to interceptions (five) to determine the overall rating of a quarterback, rather than simply raw yards, and it’s usually a category dominated by veteran quarterbacks.

Well, and a player with the ability of Mariota.

Nationally, only two freshmen really compare statistically to Mariota. Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M — who was once committed to Oregon, and attended a camp in Eugene with Mariota — and UCLA’s Brett Hundley both best Mariota in total yards and passing yards. But they’ve both attempted more passes, neither has as good of a completion percentage and each has two fewer touchdown passes than Mariota.

It’s likely Mariota’s numbers are never going to set records on a national basis anyway, simply because of the balance of Oregon’s offense. Think of some of those marks: Sam Bradford of Oklahoma holds the NCAA record for touchdown passes by a freshman with 36, but the Sooners threw the football considerably more often than Oregon. In his freshman season at Missouri, Brad Smith ran for 1,029 yards (a record for a freshman quarterback) and passed for 2,333 yards, but he was virtually the entire offense for his team.

Perhaps a more valid comparison for Mariota’s freshman season would be what Andrew Luck of Stanford accomplished in his first college season. With an offense built around the running of Toby Gerhart, Luck still set a Stanford freshman record with 2,575 passing yards while throwing for 13 touchdowns to lead the Pac-12 in passing efficiency. Luck’s total offense average as a freshman of 244.1 yards is virtually the same as Mariota’s current average of 243.3.

And that’s after a game at Arizona State in which Mariota only passed for 48 yards, as the Ducks emphasized their running game, including Mariota’s 135 rushing yards.

“It depends on the game plan,” Mariota said of his role. “Whatever the coaches ask me to do, I’ll do it. If I have to (keep the football) more like last game, I will. It’s a lot of fun for me to run the ball.”

Again, the beauty of Mariota is his ability to handle anything thrown his way, including adversity. After an interception, he’ll analyze why it happened, and then move on, Helfrich said. After a fumble on Oregon’s second offensive play at ASU set up a touchdown for the Sun Devils and put the crowd into a frenzy, Mariota moved the Ducks up and down the field to a 43-7 halftime lead before he departed.

So even when he’s not his usual unstoppable self, he remains unflappable.

“That’s what he is, it’s one of the great qualities he has,” UO coach Chip Kelly said. “One thing we have been aware of since he got here is he has a way of not worrying about the last snap, whether it was positive or negative, and just put it behind him.

“He is an even-keel guy and has a great approach to the game. What people see on a weekly basis is what we see every day out of him.”