BYU Football: Top LDS recruit takes Cougars off his list

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One of the top high school football players in the country has said no to BYU.

Manti Te'o of Punahou High School in Honolulu, Hawaii, called BYU coach Bronco Mendnehall on Saturday morning and told the coach that he won't be signing with the Cougars when the signing period for high school seniors begins on Feb. 4.

Te'o's father, Brian, told The Salt Lake Tribune that the final three contenders for his sons services are Notre Dame, USC and UCLA. Manti Te'o will make his official campus visit to USC next weekend, and will decide a day or two after returning home, Brian Te'o said.

Because he is LDS and has cousins at BYU, Manti Te'o strongly considered the Mormon Church-operated school in Provo, and at one time several family members said the Cougars were in the lead in the recruiting battle with dozens and dozens of schools in BCS conferences.

Several recruiting services listed Te'o as the top linebacker in the country, and one of the top five prospects in the country. He was recently named the national high school player of the year by The Sporting News.

Brian Te'o said his son enjoyed his Jan. 10-11 visit to BYU, but felt "too comfortable" at BYU and worried he would become too complacent.

"He has always been one who wanted to paddle his own canoe," Brian Te'o said. "He wants to be on his own and face challenges that wouldn't come his way at BYU.....That's what he told us."