LAKE FOREST – His name is familiar to fans of Notre Dame football and sports fans in general thanks to his time at Notre Dame.
Now the former Heisman finalist is back in the Midwest to start the next chapter of his professional football career.
Manti Te’o was signed by the Bears to the practice squad today as the linebacker joins his third team in the NFL.
He was with the Saints for parts of the last three seasons, but saw most of his playing time in 2017 when he started ten games at middle linebacker. He was only active for five games the next season and was not re-signed by New Orleans after the season.
In December of 2019, the Saints brought Te’o back to help their playoff push, and he appeared in three games with two starts. In three years in New Orleans, Te’o made 86 tackles including seven for loss.
The linebacker was taken in the second round by the Chargers in the 2013 NFL Draft and played four season in San Diego. Te’o started 31 games in his first three seasons and started the first three games in 2016 before he tore his Achilles and was placed on Injured Reserve.
Before his NFL career began, the native of Laei, Hawaii had a celebrated career at Notre Dame, that concluded with a memorable senior season.
Te’o had 113 tackles, 5 1/2 for loss, 1 1/2 sacks and seven interceptions to help the Irish to a perfect 12-0 season and a berth in the BCS National Championship Game. His efforts made him a Heisman Trophy finalist, where he finished runner-up to Texas A & M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Only Te’o, Raghib “Rocket” Ismail (2nd in 1990) and Brady Quinn (3rd in 2006) have finished in the Top 3 of the voting since Tim Brown won Notre Dame’s last Heisman Trophy in 1987.
He takes the position on the practice squad that was occupied by kicker Kai Forbath, who signed with the Rams on Tuesday. Ironically, the Bears will face Los Angeles in their next game on Monday night at So Fi Stadium.
Should he be called up to the active roster at some point in 2020, Te’o could provide depth behind starting middle linebackers Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan. Joel Iyiegbuniwe and Josh Woods are currently the backups behind those starters.
See more on the Bears on Chicago Football Weekly with Jarrett Payton and Lauren Magiera Saturday at 6 PM on WGN-TV