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Hawaii MVP: Manti Te'oUPDATED 12:25 AM HST Aug 01, 2014Video Transcript
He's arguably one of the best Hawaii high school football players ever. In college, he put himself in that conversation nationally, becoming a favorite in South Bend and only the second player in Notre Dame history with 100-plus tackles in three consecutive seasons. These days he's a professional, and just last week reported for his SECOND N-F-L training camp. 6-foot-1 and now a slender 241-pounds... He saw action in 13-games with the San Diego Chargers in 20--13, compiling 61- tackles in the process. 23-year-old says he's ready to BEEF UP those numbers as his pro football comfortability rises. Back home during the off- season, we caught up with Manti Te'o our "Hawaii MVP" this week. nats - camp He's back in San Diego... But before leaving Hawaii for training camp, Punahou product Manti Te'o got leaner, faster, and funnier... Manti: "I JUST HIT PEYTON MANNING...ARE YOU OKAY? MY MOM'S GONNA KILL ME." Many times during his rookie campaign, he had to pinch himself. Despite finishing second in the 20--13 Heisman trophy race, leading Notre Dame to the National Championship, and being taken 38th overall in the NFL draft by the Chargers the "I have arrived" moment didn't come for Manti until the "Star Spangled Banner" echoed at Qualcomm stadium. Manti: "MY FIRST NFL GAME, THE FEELING OF STANDING OUT THERE AND THE NATIONAL ANTHEM IS BEING SUNG. IT'S SUNG IN POP-WARNER, IT'S SUNG IN HIGH SCHOOL, IT'S SUNG IN COLLEGE ...BUT WHEN YOU GET TO THE NFL AND IT'S SUNG IT'S LIKE IT DOESN'T GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS. I'M AT WHERE THE BEST ARE AT, AND THAN THAT'S WHEN YOUR LIFE KINDA COMES FULL CIRCLE YOU KNOW, WE MADE IT." Manti's moment was a delayed one though... Healthy his entire career, but a preseason foot injury that later required SURGERY sidelined him the first THREE games of the regular season before he made his debut week-4 against the Cowboys. Manti: "IT WAS A BUMP THAT I HAD TO GET OVER, AND IT WAS A BUMP THAT I KNEW THAT I COULD GET OVER, AND IT WAS A BUMP THAT I KNEW THAT I COULD STILL COMPETE AND I COULD STILL DO WHAT I ENJOY DOING. THAT'S PLAYING ON SUNDAY'S, REPRESENTING MY FAMILY, REPRESENTING THE STATE OF HAWAII AND UH HOPEFULLY HAVING A SUCCESSFUL YEAR AS A TEAM." Chargers finished 9-and-7 in 20--13, THIRD in the A-F-C West earning a WILDCARD spot in the playoffs, and a win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Te'o had 61-tackles as a rookie but says there's still work to be done. Manti: "IT'S A GOOD STARTING POINT, NOW IT'S JUST ALL ABOUT COMING OUT EVERYDAY AND GETTING BETTER. THERE'S NOT ONE THING THAT I DO AT A LEVEL THAT I LIKE YET." Accustom to success at Punahou and Notre Dame, film study after games on Sunday had been tough, but Manti says the games slowing down and as he improves on the cerebral aspect of football he'll be able to play more like the linebacker we've come to know. Manti: "IT'S ALWAYS A CHESS MATCH, "IT'S ALWAYS A CHESS MATCH, IT'S MORE MENTAL THAN IT IS PHYSCIAL SO THAT COMPETITIVE NATURE IS, IT'S ADDICTING. AS I BECOME MORE FAMILIAR WITH THE PLAYBOOK I CAN PLAY FASTER, AND UM HOPEFULLY HAVE THE SUCCESS THAT I'M LOOKING FOR AND SHOOTING FOR." Chargers linebacker Manti Te'o, our "Hawaii MVP" this week. If any of you have any ideas on who we should Te'o, our "Hawaii MVP" this week. If any of you have any ideas on who we should feature as our "Hawaii MVP" just hit us up at kitv.com. San Diego had missed the playoffs three straight years before Manti arrived in "America's Finest City", last season they lost in the divisional round to the Denver Broncos. Manti will play in his first preseason game in 20--14 is next Thursday against the Cowboys New poll.. New numbers..