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Emerging leader

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o led the team in tackles this season with 127.

He called the plays in from his middle linebacker position, and his 9.5 tackles for loss were second on the team.

But the sophomore is still evolving as a player, and coach Brian Kelly said the next step for Te'o is away from the field.

"I think it is continually leading and learning how to lead," Kelly said. "He's certainly a very good football player. He's got to hone his craft. He's only a sophomore, so it's not like he's arrived from that standpoint.

"I think where you will see Manti's presence being felt even more is taking over a leadership position. As a sophomore, you feel your way out through the season. Now that he's emerged as one of our leaders on defense I think you will see a bigger presence from him in the weight room, in the offseason conditioning, in the summer. I think that is where he grows more."

Te'o said he has been trying to be more of leader, but he is more comfortable by setting an example for players to follow as opposed to barking orders or giving motivational speeches.

"I try to be a leader in everything I do," Te'o said. "I try to lead by example. I'm not one to really talk, but when the time is right, I will open up my mouth and say something. It's not really my style, but I understand the responsibilities I have for my teammates and for my coaches. I'm going to do whatever."

Te'o said the biggest thing he is learning when he speaks up is how to address fellow players.

"I don't want to say something to them and throw their game off," Te'o said. "Everybody plays the game a certain way. Everybody has their own style of play. This year, I've learned to try and direct them in the place they are supposed to go and let them do their thing to get to that place."