As Manti Te'o prepares for his third season in the NFL working out a gym in his hometown of Laie, he can't help but reflect on how far he has come, not just on the field but with his health.
"I feel great. I am healthier than I have ever been coming into the league so I feel good especially how I ended off last year," said Te'o.
The Punahou alum has suffered 3 foot injuries since entering the league causing him to miss significant time away from the game, but he finished the 2014 season at full strength registering 60 tackles.
"It takes time to have confidence in yourself and then display that confidence so that you're teammates can have confidence in you."
The Chargers lost some key older veterans on defense since last season, causing the usual role players like Te'o to carry a heavier load in terms of leadership. The former Notre Dame star says he is ready to step up. "That's where I thrive just knowing that people depend on me and knowing that I am that guy who has to be the voice of the defense. It's what I did at Notre Dame and it's what I hope to do soon here at the Chargers, so I am very excited," said Te'o.
But Te'o is also a leader away from the field, inspiring young players from across the state that they too can make it in the pros. "Hopefully we can bring up the next generation to hopefully increase the numbers in the league. As long as that can happen we can say we are successful."
And as the Chargers get ready for the start of training camp next week Te'o says he and the team only have one goal in mind, making it to the Super Bowl. "Hopefully this year we can go farther and you know that's the goal and as long as I can stay healthy I think I have a good shot."