Te‘o show won’t play here forever
Manti Te'o had a perfect season going for five plays.
Four tackles and a fumble recovery.
On the next series, someone on the Waianae sideline figured it'd probably be a good idea to run away from the Punahou linebacker all the recruiters are running toward.
But Te'o is so fast that sometimes that doesn't even work. He played three quarters in Punahou's 37-21 win and finished with 10 tackles.
"I've always tried to make it a point to make an impact on every play. Whether it be making the tackle or be by the pile, I'll be there," Te'o said.
He is big, strong and fast, a snarling, high school Lawrence Taylor on the field, an articulate, respectful young gentleman off of it.
He spent the offseason dealing with recruiters and requests ranging from a journal for The Sporting News to wearing a camera in his helmet. So Te'o was elated to finally play in a game -- a week after the rest of the state started.
"It's very relieving to finally get out here and play football instead of trying to fight all the politics and all the pressure from recruiting and stuff like that," he said.
Punahou coach Kale Ane said Te'o smoothly handles the hype that goes with being a top-10 national recruit.
If you're like me, you don't put much stock in what the so-called recruiting "experts" say. But when the real experts weigh in, guys with names like Pete Carroll, Joe Paterno and Charlie Weis, then you take notice -- and they all place Te'o high on their lists.
BYU may have the lead; Te'o and his family are devout LDS church members. Obviously, the Cougars have no problem with him going on a mission after his freshman year.
He's the most hyped prospect the state has ever seen because he's the first big-time talent out of Hawaii during the Internet Age. Word of stardom at football summer camp travels quickly by text message and e-mail, and then you can verify via YouTube.
I viewed the online highlights of Te'o from last year and was more impressed with his work carrying the ball than what was shown of him defensively. He sheds tacklers with ease. I imagine we'll see him at fullback in big games this season opening holes for the electric Dalton "No Relation" Hilliard.
Ane doesn't want to push him too hard, though.
"We have to remember he can't make every play," the coach said. "He makes so many that sometimes we think he can."
He plays with the ferocity and in-your-face leadership of his on-field idol, Ray Lewis, but prepares with a "quiet, to myself" personality and insatiable work ethic.
"I just always think to myself that there's somebody better and they're working harder," Te'o said. "There's somebody faster, stronger and can hit harder than I can. If I don't keep working harder they'll continue to be the best and I want to be the best at what I do."
Well, if you believe the experts, there aren't many better in his recruiting class.
Check it out for yourself while you can.