Found February 19, 2013 on
Down and Distance:
Manti Te’o faces a grueling weekend at the NFL Combine. (Credit: Michael Conroy/AP Photo)
Former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o was one of the leading stories on the football field this past season. He has also been far and away the leading story off the field after his national championship game and the fake girlfriend hoax that shocked the nation.
Widely regarded as a top-10 draft pick in early January, Te’o looks to prevent his draft status from total free-fall with a good showing at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, which takes place from February 20-26. On the off-the-field front, Te’o seems to have learned his lesson following the “Catfishing” scandal broken by Deadspin on January 16th. USA Today’s Jim Corbett interviewed Te’o Monday afternoon, and the linebacker sounded remorseful and ready to move forward.
The Laie, Hawaii, native expressed few regrets with his handling of the situation.
“No, just be more honest,” he said. “I didn’t do anything illegal. I didn’t break any rules, I didn’t hurt anybody. I just wasn’t very forthcoming, as forthcoming as I should have been but in that, I didn’t do anything wrong.
“I have to just be myself. For me, the greatest fault would be to tell somebody something I’m not.
“And when it’s time to do the interviews, just be myself and everything will fall into place.”
Te’o has also removed his Twitter account, saying that social media has “been a distraction” for him in light of the incidents surrounding the fake girlfriend, Lennay Kekua.
Luckily, Te’o will only have to withstand 15 minutes of questioning at the combine regarding the hoax. More of the focus, as far as his draft stock is concerned, should be on Te’o's testing on the field and how he measures up against stiff competition from SEC prospects Alec Ogletree and Kevin Minter. Should Te’o lose focus on the field due to the hoax and see his testing numbers suffer, we could see another plunge out of the first round conversation like the one that Vontaze Burfict endured last year. Te’o probably won’t go undrafted as Burfict did, but a bad combine could drop him to the third round or so.
As of right now, Te’o is being considered a middle-first-round pick. Per ESPN, linebackers start testing at the combine on Saturday the 23rd and will have their on-field testing done on Monday the 25th. This time next week, we could have a radically different perspective on Te’o heading into the 2013 NFL draft.
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