"Courageous, is one of the best words I can come up with to describe him," said Mickey Standiford, a member of the Mormon church in South Bend attended by Te'o, who is close with Standiford's family.
"To face those adversities and be able to still focus and have that determination, I think, to want to succeed for them. He wanted those games to be tributes to them. He didn't want it to be about him and the fact that he was out there doing it. It was more that he wanted to bring light to them. Courageous, determined, focused and just family is the most important thing to him."
Jones won the Outland Trophy as a left tackle last season, the Rimington Award as the nation's top center in 2012 and the Campbell Trophy, the Heisman's academic equivalent.
He just finished graduate school in accounting.
"I just feel like I've been gifted with a mind that enjoys school and enjoys learning," Jones said. "I wanted to leave with a master's degree. That was my goal the whole time."
He made a strong impression on Rich Houston, director of Alabama's master of accountancy program. Houston taught Jones in advanced auditing in the fall of 2011, a discussion-heavy course that students call "the current events class."
"The class was at 8 in the morning," he said. "He was always there, and he was the No. 1 participant in class in terms of both quantity and quality. And that includes having some fairly high-profile people in the accounting profession come into the class. He would ask great questions of those people, engage in conversation.
"Even if he wasn't an athlete, I'd be saying all the same things about him. Just what a really, genuinely good kid he is."