Te’o Unsure of Mission Plans

Freshman linebacker Manti Te'o said on Friday he is unsure of what his mission might be at this time. (Photo - Icon SMI)

Notre Dame, IN (UHND) – The biggest question freshman linebacker Manit Te’o will facing all year is what his plans are concerning his mission at the end of the year. Te’o, a member of the LDS Church, will have a big decision to make at the end of the season regarding his mission, but for now he is leaving his options open.

“That’s a choice I have to make after this year,” Te’o said on Friday when talking to the media for the first time since arriving at Notre Dame. “I’m constantly talking to my parents about it and constantly praying about it asking the Lord our Savoir for guidance on that,” he would add.

A traditional mission could take Te’o away from the field for a year or two. Or, he could serve out his mission at Notre Dame. The choice is ultimately his. “It’s always your choice. You have a choice to do what you want to do, but there’s always consequences to every choice you make whether it be good or bad. Whatever choice I make there are going to be consequences. I have to be aware of what those consequences are and make sure it’s in line with what the Lord wants,” he explained.

Te’o thinks about his mission and what it may entail constantly and will make his decision after a long process. When asked what goes into the decision making process, Te’o responded, “Just a lot of praying and pondering and fasting and just talking with my parents and church leaders – especially the Lord.” He would later add, “Whatever His answer may be, I hope I have the courage to do it.”

Ultimately, Te’o plans on doing whatever the Lord asks him to do for his mission and that what He wants trumps whatever success he might have on the field this year. “I think whatever the man up above says, that’s what I have to do. He’s brought me to this place. He’s brought me this far and for me not to listen to him and not obey what he asks me to do; I think that would be very bad for me to do on my part,” he explained.

While his long term future might be a bit uncertain, Te’o should make an immediate impact on the football field in the short term. There is a very real chance that he will be in the starting lineup for the season opener against Nevada and could spend his freshman season as a full time starter.

What his future past this season holds we’ll find out after this year, but regardless of his decision, it sounds like Te’o is a young man with his head screwed on pretty well.

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  1. I am reading these comments because I am a fan of Manti Teo. I agree that his mission can be at Notre Dame yet not in an official capacity. He is in a unique situation being a Mormon at a high profile Catholic University. I believe that his choice to go to Notre Dame, his good example off the field and his play on the field have contributed much in providing attention to the LDS Church Gospel. Thus, I would not condemn him for deciding to stay at Notre Dame without going on his mission…The important thing is that he continue to set a good example at Notre Dame and beyond and that he recognizes that his character is being watched. On the other hand, if Teo does decide to go on a two year mission, it would not be the end of the world for Notre Dame; they still get him for at least two more years…just later. Many returned missionaries have returned, done well in College and thrived in the NFL including Vai Sikahema, Austin Collie and Trevor Mattich.

  2. Great game against Nevada, Manti. We are very proud of you! The best way to find out if you should serve a mission is turn in your paperwork in a year. If you get a calling, then it’s meant to be. LOL. A mission will do a world of eternal good. I am certain the NFL will be waiting for you but your blessings will be tremendous if you serve. I know you will have your answer soon and good luck. Aloha!

  3. thank you everyone. that clears alot up for some of us who do not know much about the LDS faith.
    i wish the media could have done a little research and been half as informative as you guys.

    1. I’m sure Teo is under a ton of pressure from both sides to stay and play ball at ND and from the church community to go on a mission.. It will be interesting to see what he decides, but from a football standpoint, if he goes on a mission we can expect a different player upon his arrival as several alluded to above.

  4. As a member of the LDS faith and a former missionary I can answer a few questions this article raises. In the LDS faith the only official missions are the following. 2 years (24 months) for Male members over the age of 19. 1 and a half years (18 months) for Female members over the age of 21. And also two years or longer for mature couples (men and women usually past their primes) or as actual Presidents over the missionaries themselves (36 months I believe). All worthy single LDS male members over the age of 19 are instructed to serve a mission. It is not required but heavily taught that if you can serve and you are worthy, you should. Once a young man/woman decides that they want to serve a mission, they fill out proper paperwork and submit it to the church headquarters where the Church administration assigns the young man/woman to a geographic Mission in the world. That can be to a foreign country, part of a foreign country or even to States in the United States. Once on a mission that young man/woman works all day, every day as a missionary. It is more than a full time job. It is their life 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. After 24 months (male) or 18 months (female) of serving honorably the missionary is released and returns home to resume normal daily life, hopefully more spiritually and emotionally mature than before their mission experience.

    There are no unofficial or part time missions or shorter missions (unless it is cut short due to inappropriate behavior on the part of the missionary or due to mission ending injury or sickness). Some members have taken upon themselves their own “unofficia” mission to be a representative of the church in their daily lives. This is not an official church position or calling, but just a member’s committment to live a missionary-like life in what they are doing.

    So if Manti decides to serve an official mission, he will be gone for 24 months for sure if he serves out his full mission requirements. If he decides against serving a mission, then there isn’t another part time missionary option sponsored by the church. He may just continue to try to represent the church positively by living it’s standards in his regular daily life. That may be what he is referring to by “serving a mission in ND”. Meaning I won’t serve an official Church mission but I will live my life worthily and represent the church well wherever I may be in my life.

  5. Thank you to all the BYU fans and LDS members who have commented on on this post. I think most Notre Dame fans, myself included, were pretty unclear about what exactly a mission entails so thank you for the clarification.

  6. Clarification. Hopefully this explanation will help here. There is no such thing as a one year LDS mission, or a missionary picking the place he or she serves. Those who choose to serve missions for the LDS church choose to serve full-time for two years (1-1/2 years for ladies) wherever they are assigned. That may be in some village in Peru, London, Russia, Indiana, or almost anywhere else in the world. They devote 100% of there time to missionary work (sorry no football workouts). It may be hard for a football player to come back and regain pre-mission form after two years of teaching people to “love one another” in some third-world country where all they eat is rice and beans. But, the experience of serving others completely for 2 years is something that can’t have a price put on it. I wish Manti and ND the best.

  7. There seems to be a bit of confusion about what a Mormon Mission is.

    If Te’o were to take a Mormon mission, he would basically need to do a few things. Once he is 19, he can interview with his local church leaders to determine if he is worthy and really wants to do this (he can’t be getting his drink/sex on, etc. and then the next day decide to go on a mission). Then he sends in his request to the president of the church who sends him to wherever he is inspired to send him. It could be anywhere around the world. ALL missions are 2 years. You cannot request a length of time of location.

    Once on his mission, Te’o would be doing missionary work full-time. He wouldn’t have any time to workout or train or play football or anything like that – chances are he’d go overseas anyways.

    Te’o will either choose to go on a 2-year football-less mission or not. There is no such thing as a 1-year mission or going on a “South Bend” mission. I don’t think its likely he will go.

  8. Whatever Teo decides, I hope it is right for him. And as he says – that he has the courage to do whatever he knows is right. I see potential long-term consequences either way.

    As a BYU fan and a former LDS Missionary, just a couple of clarifications.

    First – LDS Missions are all two years. Missionaries give the day they are available to leave, and then are mailed a date to report for service and the mission they will be serving in. There really isn’t a choice in either matter. The mission ends approximately 2 years later, depending on when other missionaries are coming into the mission (meaning it isn’t typically 2 years to the date). If a missionary goes for a shorter time, it is because he left early. This is fairly common for kids to leave a month early to not miss school enrollment deadlines. For a kid to leave after a year isn’t unheard of, but would also be considered unexpected. And typically is the result of a kid deciding a mission just isn’t for him/her. The mission commitment is for two years.

    Most missionaries have little time for exercise, but are encourage to do so for about an hour a day except for Sunday. Some come home in OK shape, but there is a reason that BYU fans like it when players that leave do so the end of December or beginning of January – subsequently being able to finish a season before they leave and have as much time as possible to get back in shape when they return.

    Finally – as a BYU fan I was sad to lose out on a kid that for all intents and purposes looks to be a great player. That said, I hope that if he does go on a mission, he returns to Notre Dame two years later rather than transfering to BYU. Obviously it would be the kid’s choice and BYU has both gained and lost some players to transfers over the years. I would just prefer that, short of extenuating circumstances, kids keep their original commitment.

  9. To clarify some things: There are not “modifed” LDS missions in cases such as this. Mission for young women are 18 months, for young men 2 years. There are cases when, for example, a young man who is handicapped or ill has a desire to serve a mission and will be assigned to something near his home as to be able to stay home with parents/doctors/etc. But this is VERY rare, and would not apply to a young man with an able body and mind.

    That said, Manti could choose to go on a two-year mission and then decide at any time during that time that he is done and return home. This is looked down upon – if you commit to a mission you commit to serving the full term. But it happens at times, for whatever personal reason.

    And be assured that if Manti does choose to go, wherever it is, it is very unlikely that he will do much in the way of working out – and most it will be push-ups and sit-ups in the early a.m before his required time to wake up each day. There is just not time, nor the thought, of trying to stay in much shape for football. I served a mission in Chile and was on scholarship to play football and run track when I got home. I never even SAW a football for two years.

    From the perspective of an LDS person who has served a mission, I hope Manti does. There will be no greater personal growth in his life than to do so. But the decision in his alone to make, and I am sure he will receive pressure from all sides to stay or go.

  10. I am a Mormon and a returned missionary. Missions are 2 years long and you do not decide where you are going. Period. They are voluntary, of course. He could elect to not go on a mission and do “missionary” work while at ND…living by example, etc. Steve Young never went on a mission, but they weren’t as expected to back then. He will decide to go on a mission for two years, or he will stay at ND. There aren’t many football players that go on missions while playing football at a school outside of Utah, but we’ll see what Manti decides to do.

  11. As a member of the LDS faith, I might be able to clarify a few questions. When a young man or woman decides to go on a mission, they are committing to serve for 2 years (for the young men) or 18 months (for the young women). Of course, they have the choice whether to go or not – but once they have decided to go, the our prophet (similar to the pope) and other leaders of the church decide where to send them. For many, it will be out of the USA and away from football altogether. For many, it will also be learning a new language, culture, etc.

    As a fan of BYU football and a brother-in-law of one who was offered a scholarship to play d-line at University of Oregon, I have seen alot of the effects that missions can have on these young men. My brother in law came home and decided football was too violent and didn’t want to play any longer. Many missionaries who travel to places like South America come back 50 lbs lighter than when they left. There is a pretty well-documented story about a return missionary who had his freshman season at U of Utah as a punter but gained so much weight on his mission he came back as a d-lineman.

    Either way, these guys do not have much physical activity during those 2 years. (Riding bikes isn’t the same as D-1 football.) In the case of skill positions, many never regain their freshman form and/or speed. Also, it takes a while for these guys to get back into football shape. Too many times coaches not familiar with what being a return missionary entails expect too much too soon from these players. When that happens, alot of injuries occur. JT Mapu with U of Tennessee and Ben Olsen of UCLA are quite recent examples. So, at BYU, with pretty rare exception, these guys go on a mission for 2 years and then redshirt their first year back as they get back into shape.

    From my understanding as well, as much as I would like to see him at BYU I believe that bridge was burned. If he does decide to go on a mission, I wouldn’t expect him to end up at BYU.

  12. One thing you have to consider is the fact that he may never return to ND after a 2-year mission. A lot of these guys come back with even a stronger ‘testimony’ and want to be closer to the homeland, BYU.

    1. If I understand it correctly, the NCAA recently modified the transfer rules so that athletes serving a 2 year mission must sit out one year after transferring. In the past, athletes were released and free to transfer.

      Ben Olson was the #1 rated high school quarterback in the country by some services a few years ago. He left BYU to serve an LDS mission and wound up transferring to UCLA when he returned. Unfortunately, injuries and other issues prevented him from having the kind of college career that was predicted for him.

      Although I’m a BYU fan and BYU probably loses more than it gains from the new transfer rule (with Olson being an example the other way), I agree with the rule.

      Most of us BYU fans were disappointed Teo chose to go elsewhere. That said, if he was going to go somewhere else, Notre Dame was obviously a very solid choice. Wherever I’ve been, I’ve always enjoyed interacting with Notre Dame fans.

  13. I understand the distinction between the formal Mormon Mission and other less formal types, but I have to wonder what will be better for the LDS Church. Having a Mormon publicly live out his faith well in the spotlight of one of the biggest football programs or stuck in some tiny village in the south pacific out of the spotlight. I’m a Catholic, and if any of the Catholic ND players were as public about their faith as much as this guy is about his, I would want him on the field as much as possible and setting a good example for the ND community and beyond.

    That being said, I don’t think him going on a 2 year mission will be bad for ND. I mean, when he comes back he’ll be older and possibly (assuming he stays in shape and sticks around for a while) even more dominant as a 24 year old senior than as a 22 year old senior.

  14. I find this headline somewhat misleading. I just watched the press conference with Te’o. I have a somewhat murky feeling on this. If I had to guess, I’d guess that he’s got an equal chance of taking his mission locally (not leaving), leaving for one year and leaving for two years (ie: 33.3% chance each).

    That said, I’m not sure I care which one he decides. Or at least I don’t like the idea of fans trying to hope influence his decision. I think it’s a decision for him, God, his family and maybe his church leaders to help him work out. I shouldn’t say I don’t care, I just don’t think what I want should factor into his decision.

    Whichever he decides, I hope he gains whatever perspective/fulfillment/etc he needs from it. And I look forward to his return/continuing with ND. After watching him take questions for upwards of 20 Minutes, I’m just grateful to have this kid on the team. I only hope that his character continues to make a positive impact on the team as a whole.

    1. i agree totally and hope that my “selfish” comments wouldn’t be taken the wrong way. i only meant them jokingly as all of us fans don’t want to lose such a great kid for 2 years. i also don’t want to influence his decision as i am sure fans would agree, as this is for him and his creator. i was merely just trying to get some insight as to what/who/where determines his mission and to hopefully put all of this speculation to rest. so according to joey from above, he will be taking a mission for 2 years and it is up to his church leaders as to where and what that is. i wish nothing but the best for him and hope this brings some kind of end to the “will he…?” discussion.

  15. Born and raised in Utah, I have a wealth of knowledge concerning the Mormon faith and missions. I have never heard of an opportunity for a LDS individual to choose where their mission will be located. They receieve a mission call from the church, in the mail, and this letter is the parcel that ultimately determines where they will spend the next two years, not one which was mentioned as a possibility in the article. A ‘true’ mission which Teo speaks of would not land him in South Bend.

    1. Thanks for the clarification Joey. I believe both Weis and Te’o have mentioned one year possibilities for a mission in the past though. Perhaps his mission might not be a traditional one?

      1. I just consulted with a best friend, return missionary, and his answer was, “A Mormon mission? No.” That was his response to the inquiry if one could do a one-year mission.

  16. i might be a little selfish and uneducated about the LDS missions here, but what if he did serve his mission at ND? maybe since its a school based on faith, it could help his faith and ND to better educate the school, students, and people of the south bend area of the LDS mission and teachings. would that be considered a mission?

    being a huge ND fan, i do not want to lose this kid for a year or two(i know, selfish). also, can he not serve his mission like tebow did during the summers? anyway, any and all insight is appreciated and i am sure whatever he decides will be for the right reasons.

    1. I served a mission for the LDS church. Here is some info about it:
      As mentioned previously, you don’t choose where you will go. The mission lasts for two years and nothing shorter than that. You can’t go for periods and come back, you serve the two years straight. I do agree though that at times the church leaders have talked with individuals and told them that they could have a greater influence on the people around them and be a missionary without actually going on a mission, but this is pretty rare. I hope this answers your question.

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