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Irish Insights


Helping Te'o

Notre Dame receiver Robby Toma usually tries to get to Cornell University to visit his girlfriend.

But this year, the senior knew he had something more important to do.

Toma traveled with his childhood friend Manti Te'o home to their native Laie, Hawaii, as the Irish linebacker finally got to go home after the death of his grandmother and girlfriend.

"He asked me, he's like, 'Hey, you want to come home with me. I need you.' I just told him, 'Yeah, let's do it,' " Toma said Wednesday. "My girlfriend was cool with it. I was going to go any way. But she told me to go support him. I already knew I had to support him. It was a no-brainer. I was going to go home and do what I needed to do."

Toma said it was important for Te'o to get home after having to delay the trip for two weeks to play in Notre Dame's wins over Michigan State and Michigan.

"His phone was blowing up. The media was talking about it every second. He couldn't get away from it," Toma said. "When he got home, he was able to just chill with his family, and not get away from it, but just remember his grandmother, share stories with his family and get to smile about it."

Toma said Te'o helped set up for his grandmother's funeral, raising tents and other things, and that by the end of it the linebacker and his family were laughing together as they shared stories.

"The funeral service was beautiful," Toma said. "It was a real good representation of his grandmother's life. It was good, we got time off, time away from here, now we are ready for Miami."

Defensive end Louis Nix III said the way Te'o handled the situation inspired the team.

"That was big time, two people in like a week, that is heartbreaking, and he decided to stay with us," Nix said. "He shared everything with us. He let us know how he felt. He stayed with us the whole time. We hung out with him the whole time.

"That says a lot about his character, and it tells a lot about our team and how we feel about each other. That helps me just say, 'I should go out here and play for my brother every play.' He decided to stay here for this game, and he had all of this going back home. He didn't go home for like two weeks, and he had all of this on his plate.

"He thought about me, so I want to think about him and the other people on the team every week I'm going out on the field."