FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Notre Dame linebacker Manti Teo didnt enjoy much downtime after the No. 1 Irish (12-0) finished their first perfect season since 1988 and earned a spot opposite No. 2 Alabama (12-1) in Mondays BCS championship game.
After Notre Dame closed the regular season with a 22-13 win at USC, Teo embarked on a five-city tour over seven days and collected a record seven major postseason awards.
Once it was over, though, Teo said he had no problem going back to work.
Its been easy. When youre in the middle of football, nothing else matters, Teo said. Football is my sanctuary where I feel most at home, and when Im with my guys, when Im with my coach, thats my comfort zone, and thats where I want to be.
I was just glad to finally get back from that week of just traveling and just to spend the rest of my time with my guys.
Teos journey started in Charlotte, N.C., where he won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the nations top defensive player. He then went to New York as a member of the National Football Foundations scholar-athlete team. Then he was in Houston to collect the Lombardi Award as the nations top lineman or linebacker.
Teo then head to Orlando where he collected the Chuck Bednarik Award as defensive player of the year; the Maxwell Award as player of the year; and the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award. He then returned to New York to finish second for the Heisman Trophy, and he finished his journey by winning the Lott IMPACT Award in California.
Teo was also named the Butkus Award winner as the nations top linebacker during that week, but he has not slowed down after being so rewarded.
Manti has actually practiced harder the last week since the award circuit, practiced harder than he has all year long, defensive coordinator Bob Diaco said. He has raised his game even just as early as last week and leading up to the travel here to South Florida.