FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – It’s pretty easy to pick out the top threat in Notre Dame’s defense – linebacker Manti Te’o.
The senior had a record haul seven major postseason awards and earned the most votes ever by a defensive player when he finished second for the Heisman Trophy.
So, of course, Alabama has paid attention to Te’o as the No. 2 Crimson Tide (12-1) prepare to play the No. 1 Irish (12-0) in the BCS championship game Monday.
“The thing that stands out to me about Manti is he always seems to find the ball, as do all great players on defense,” Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier said Thursday. “You look at the interceptions, the tackles, he always seems to be around the ball. He has great natural instincts. Obviously he's a phenomenal athlete. It's going to be very important that we know where he is at all times.”
Te’o led Notre Dame with 103 tackles and set a school record for interceptions by a linebacker with seven.
“He’s always around the ball,” Tide quarterback AJ McCarron said. “He's a great player, makes a lot of plays for his defense, and is the heart and soul for them. He's going to be a big key to the game, like always.”