Posted by Tom Fornelli
It's safe to say that Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly found himself with a giant smile on his face Sunday night. Linebacker Manti Te'o made the announcement that he'd be returning to Notre Dame for his senior season instead of leaving to enter the NFL draft.
Te'o was projected to be a first round pick in the draft if he did decide to leave early, but instead made an impromptu announcement about his decision while in Newport Beach, California for an awards ceremony in which he was a nominee. His father confirmed the news to the Chicago Tribune via text message.
Which is very good news for the Notre Dame defense in 2012. The unit finished 34th in the country in yards against per game in 2011, and was 28th in scoring defense, and now its leader will be returning for another year. Te'o led the Irish in tackles (111), tackles for loss (12) and sacks (4.5) during the regular season.
Te'o's return is even more important when considering that the Irish defense will lose 6 starters to graduation this year, including the entire secondary.