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Throwback Thursday: Former Notre Dame Linebacker Te’von Coney

Tough Choices

NCAA Football: Ball State at Notre Dame
Sep 8, 2018; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Te’von Coney (4) celebrates after a tackle in the first quarter against the Ball State Cardinals at Notre Dame Stadium.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past several weeks, Te’von Coney and I have been working on a project together. And while I am not quite ready to debut that just yet, I would love to take this week’s Throwback Thursday post to share Te’von’s journey with you, and fill you in on some of the wonderful things he is doing in his community.

Te’von Coney, born on June 10, 1997, was born and raised in West Palm Beach, Florida. As a young man growing up, Te’von focused his energy on his academics and football, using the tools he learned both on and off the field to carry him through the adversity he faced in his everyday life. His perseverance and hard work paid off, resulting in an outstanding high school career (In his junior season, 2013, Coney helped Palm Beach Gardens reach Florida Class 8A semifinals by recording 172 tackles, six forced fumbles, and two interceptions. During his senior season, 2014, Coney recorded 136 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries, and two interceptions.), and finished as a 2015 Under Armour All-American.

He continued his academic and football career at the University of Notre Dame, where he would graduate with a B.A. in Philosophy, and a minor in Business Economics. Notre Dame was the perfect place for Te’von to shine both on and off the field. On the field, Te’von playing in 12 games as a true freshman in 2015, on special teams and as a reserve linebacker, and registered 13 tackles. During his sophomore season (2016), he played in all 12 regular season games and started in nine. He recorded 62 tackles, including 33 solo stops. In his junior season (2017), he appeared in all 13 games and started in seven. He led the Irish in solo tackles (57), assisted tackles (59), total tackles (116), TFLs (13.5) and ranked second in sacks (3.0). In his senior season (2018), he started all 12 games and led the Irish with 107 total tackles. He registered nine TFLs, 3.5 sacks, five QB hurries, four break-ups, an interception, and a fumble recovery. Te’von was selected as a Midseason All-American by Pro Football Focus (first team), to numerous award watch lists, and at the end of 2018 was named first team All-American by PFF. He rounded out his collegiate career by recording a career-best 17 tackles (top by any player in a bowl game) in the 2018 Citrus Bowl.

Te’von Coney Notre Dame vs Michigan Mike Miller/One Foot Down

Currently, Te’von is on the roster of the Las Vegas Raiders, where he signed as an undrafted free agent following the NFL Draft in 2019. The NFL dream, however, has not been all sunshine and rainbows for Te’von. At the end of August, the Raiders cut Te’von, and he had to return home to West Palm Beach to continue training and pursuing his goals. His hard work did pay off, though, as the Raiders signed him to their practice squad on December 11, 2019.

Te’von’s journey, and the adversity he has faced thus far in his life, has created a burning desire in him to do something to give back. While pursuing his dream of playing in the NFL is important to him, making an impact in his community through inspiring hope and opening doors of opportunity for the youth in his community who struggle just like he did is driving his purpose off the field.

Tough Choices

In 2020, Coney launched Tough Choices. The objective of Tough Choices is to educate, inspire, and mentor the youth in communities that are in dire need of additional, equitable support. “We maintain that it is essential to be able to connect and build with the youth on platforms with components they can identify with.” Tough Choices is not a brand, but a movement crafted to encourage change, reform education, and spark growth.

To kick things off, Te’von has created an apparel line to help fund and promote his cause. His next steps are to create a mentorship program (once we’re done social distancing, of course), that will provide resources and guidance for the youth in his community (and beyond eventually) to help them pursue their dreams, whatever they may be.

In February of this year, Te’von participated in the NFL Players Association Externship program, in which he visited the United Way Worldwide headquarters in Alexandria, Va.

“My experience with the United Way was very important to me as a young professional. I learned how to start a foundation, how to build it from the ground up, and how to make it sustainable so that it will be around long after I am gone. I want to be sure that my foundation will continue changing lives. Working with the United Way gave me unbelievable insight on how I can take the ideas I currently have and make them even better. We also had the chance to go into some schools in the communities surrounding Washington, D.C., where we learned the struggles they are facing. They shared with us the common problems that teenagers are dealing with, and showed us how things can vary across the country in different environments. I learned so much from the schools we visited, and it increased my knowledge of things that I can do to make a positive impact to support the youth in my own community.”

“The entire externship was invaluable to me, and has given me knowledge that I will use throughout my journey. They shared information with me about my own city, which will help me support my community better. For example, they shared with me the hunger statistics within my community. They also shared with me how great the need is for mentoring, and how beneficial mentoring is to keep kids focused and provide them with the guidance and knowledge that they need to not only make good decisions, but to do great things. I want to be able to show the youth in my community all of the opportunities that are available to them.”

“When I returned to Florida, I also visited FAU with the United Way, and saw yet another way I can make a difference within my community. College students also need mentoring, especially first generation college students. These students often need help in order to be successful in college while dealing with possible family struggles at home. These kids want to be in school, but often times it is hard for them to stay there without some outside help. In addition to this, I want to educate the high school kids in my community and make sure they are prepared before they make decisions about their future. College is the right choice for many kids, but there are more options than just college, such as trade schools, which can lead to successful futures.”

“I am truly grateful for the opportunity to work with the United Way. They have been in the non-profit industry for over 100 year, and having access to that type of knowledge is truly priceless and I’m incredibly thankful for their help.”

I love keeping in touch with former Notre Dame Fighting Irish student-athletes, and sharing all of the wonderful things they are doing in their communities; Te’von is no exception. If you would like to collaborate with Te’von in moving his mission forward, he is currently looking to create partnerships with like-minded people and brands. If we as a community work together, we can reach so many more young adults and help them chase their dreams and reach their potential. If you would like to learn more about helping Te’von with his mission, you can reach out to him here.

Cheers & GO IRISH!