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All NFL eyes will be on Te’o this week

Feb 18, 2013, 3:04 PM EST

Manti Te'o Stanford

The NFL will descend on Indianapolis this week, with the first big step in NFL Draft preparations taking place for the 32 member clubs, as they get their chance to poke and prod 333 college prospects. For many eligible draft players, they’ve spent the days since their college careers ended training for the annual cattle call, working on drill specific skills, trying their best to shave away hundredths of a second on their forty times, or working on broad jumps or three-cone shuttle runs that don’t always translate to the football field.

No NFL prospect has had a more adventurous post-season run than Manti Te’o, who has seen his reputation take quite a hit both on and off the field, courtesy of his underwhelming performance against Alabama and the revelation of the hoax surrounding Te’o’s long-distance girlfriend Lennay Kekua.

While Te’o made the obligatory media rounds, talking to ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap and Katie Couric, he’ll know have a chance to tell NFL team’s his side of the story, making him one of two athletes with the most at stake at the combine, according to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King.

Here’s what King had to say about Te’o in today’s Monday Morning Quarterback column:

Manti Te’o. The Notre Dame linebacker has spent a lot of time practicing football and practicing what he’s going to say to teams. His last game, against Alabama, was a nightmare (he was awful, and overpowered), and then the whole fake girlfriend story came up, making him a national story and, in some quarters, a national joke. It won’t matter much how he works out in Indianapolis. What will matter are the 15-minute interviews he’ll have in formal evening sessions with teams, and in less formal settings, seeing coaches and personnel people at the stadium and around his hotel.

King puts Te’o in the same category as former Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree, who was suspended four games this season for failing a drug test and was arrested for DUI last week in Arizona, where he’s preparing for the draft.

Perhaps King hasn’t had a chance to interact with Te’o, because there’s little doubt that the former Irish linebacker will come out of meetings with teams impressing. If the concerns are strictly off the field for Te’o, then it’ll be an easy week for the All-American, who handled the aftermath of the hoax revelation about as well as you could expect the most seasoned political operative, not to mention a 21-year-old kid.

Maybe his body of work over four seasons is enough, but if you’re looking for news from Te’o this week, keep an eye on his measureables. After struggling against Alabama’s massive defensive front, it’s important for Te’o to look the part of an elite inside linebacker, putting up numbers physically that match his productivity over the past four seasons.

While Te’o is listed as 6-foot-2, 255-pounds in Notre Dame’s program, it’ll be interesting to see if he measures that tall at the combine. I’d also expect to see Te’o weigh in a little lighter, with a more sculpted frame helping the linebacker look quick and athletic during the agility and speed portions of the testing.

It’s hard to understand how a linebacker that was part of an elaborate and sick catfishing deception has as much to prove as a guy that’s failed a drug test and can’t stay out of trouble even while preparing for the biggest job interview of his life. But that’s the flip-side of the attention Te’o received all season, where the linebacker finished second in the Heisman Trophy race after leading Notre Dame to a national championship game appearance.

  1. nudeman - Feb 18, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    Interesting you would mention his height and questions about its legitimacy.
    I’ve never thought he looked 6’2″ and certainly not the 6’3″ I’ve also seen him listed as.

    • mltdwn - Feb 22, 2013 at 2:27 PM

      I’m not a Manti Teo hater and never paid any attention to him until late in the season where I thought the story of his lossed loves ones was tragic and compelling. I might even be happy if my team drafts him. I’m just an old guy who likes sports, but doesn’t use social media. I’m sure this must have been discussed at some point and I missed it, but can someone tell me in this day and age, is it conceivable for someone having a telephone relationship for more than a year not to have used Skype? Did he ever have a response to that? Thanks.

      • letafan4ever - Feb 22, 2013 at 5:48 PM

        Unusual but conceivable. The story is so long and detailed would be hard to explain. It came up and he says he questioned ” her ” regarding the Skype with no satisfactory explanation.
        The relationship was pretty casual through Facebook, phone, on line and really not serious until he got a call in May that “she” had been in an accident. in the hospital, coma etc and only responded to his voice.-No Skype there while she was on a Respirator. On and on it goes then Leukemia, Hospitalization- No Skype there. Dies the day after she gets out of the Hospital. So May-Sept Phone calls with family, him, Minister etc. Scripture readings and on and on. He thought he was helping “her”.

        Such is the life of”Catfishing” ” She” pops up again on the Phone Dec 6 and he tries to figure it out. Talks to family, School, Coaches Dec 26 . All hell breaks loose mid January.

        Anyway, Thanks for your concern!! and support!! He is a good guy who got duped big time.

  2. irishdodger - Feb 18, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    This will be another excuse to hate on Notre Dame. Te’o would have dropped to the lower first round regardless of the girlfriend hoax. Inside LBs are just not a hot position for high NFL picks. One thing I’m confident in is that we will see projections ranging all over the place about where he will be picked. In other words, none of the pundits knows where Manti will be selected. He’s definitely not a Top 5 pick and may follow the same path that Jimmy Clausen did when he plummeted from top ten pick to high 2nd round. Either way, I hope he shuts all his detractors up. No one seems to remember how Bama also made another Heisman finalist look bad in the previous year’s NC game…and Mathieu had the benefit of playing Bama twice not to mention he was on a more talented & deeper team. Perspective is often blinded by hate.

  3. stedward - Feb 18, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    I really hope to see Te’o get back on his horse and be productive in the NFL. There are plenty of teams running a 3-4 that could use a linebacker of his caliber. The Steelers would be my bet.

  4. acieu - Feb 18, 2013 at 4:24 PM

    Will his signup bonus include a life size blowup doll?

    • brianjack13 - Feb 18, 2013 at 4:51 PM

      Ah yes, I can see you are a serious sports fan with you reference to the popular “sign up” bonus. Well played sir. That and the blow doll reference that has nothing to do with anything shows your quick wit. Nailed it!

      • bernhtp - Feb 18, 2013 at 6:05 PM

        We really need better trolls here. Maybe some members should go to other sites and recruit the ones with the most talent. Too bad Tony Alford is otherwise busy.

      • nudeman - Feb 18, 2013 at 6:45 PM

        “Sign up bonus”. Jesus …
        Guy actually makes me pine for Hahhv

        I hear the biggest sign up bonuses are for “lockup corners”

        (Pay)Roll dam Tide

      • papadec - Feb 18, 2013 at 8:37 PM

        Where are stealth & sinister when you really need trolls? I forgot which one is in the USMC – but if he has deployed, I wish him a safe return.

    • lovinthatsomanyhateonnd - Feb 18, 2013 at 5:01 PM

      maybe you could get a signing bonus and they could include some brain cells for you…since you seem to be lacking them.

  5. dudeacow - Feb 18, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    I’m not worried about Te’o dropping at all. Teams will look at the whole two missed tackles during the regular season and see that the hoax isn’t that uncommon (4 Redskins and a couple Wolverines fell for it). He will be picked in the top 10.

  6. goirishgo - Feb 18, 2013 at 5:57 PM

    Thanks for the last paragraph, Keith. I am sick and tired of Te’o being compared to drug users, criminals, and sociopaths like Ogletree and Armstrong. Manti may or may not fare well in the NFL but he hasn’t failed drug tests, shown up on police blotters, or otherwise behaved badly. He HAS gotten his degree, been a good teammate and leader, and inspired many others. When did naïveté attain the status of criminality?

  7. tony34343434 - Feb 18, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    Teo took a team that many experts were predicting to finish 6-6 and he helped lead them to a 12-0 record beating teams like Stanford, Oklahoma on the road, USC and Michigan who was a pre-season top 10. A defense that lost almost its entire secondary to injury. Teo was always a not good but GREAT character guy who from what i hear gave of himself for charity events and for his faith. He did have a bad game against Bama but we all did.

    Forget all the drama with the story, he was always seen as a team guy and if this scares teams away they are hypocrites. You can look at Ray Lewis who was involved in a murder, the cowboys receiver who punched his mother in the face, plaxico and go on and on and on. Teo committed no crime unless you consider being naive a crime.

    He will be a great middle linebacker and a credit to any community or city that picks him. He was a great leader on and off the field and all the haters could have fun with the story but when you see stories of players taking money to play and even a house like Reggie Bush, or crimes being committed in colleges all across the country we were more than lucky to have Teo. I would love to see the Giants get him, he would fit in well and when they see all the charity work and time he puts in all this silliness will be forgotten. GO IRISH!!!!

  8. 1notredamefan - Feb 18, 2013 at 9:36 PM

    randomness #51. A monkey was once tried and convicted for smoking a cigarette in South Bend, Indiana.

    • papadec - Feb 18, 2013 at 11:16 PM

      Filtered, non-filtered, or did he roll his own?

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Feb 19, 2013 at 1:07 PM

      If i remember correctly, the monkey’s mom wasn’t too happy. I heard that she went ape shit. …but what you failed to mention in your random fact is that, despite the conviction, he was still drafted by the Phoenix Suns in the 2007 NBA Mascot Draft.

  9. irishpuma - Feb 18, 2013 at 10:30 PM

    Haters gonna hate. Who cares when he goes? He was great for ND and he is going to be great for whatever team gets him. It will be in the first round and he will get first round money and have all the opportunities afforded to him to have a great career. Some boards had him going 5-10 pre incident now maybe he goes 15-25 which is possibly where he may have went anyway. It is all just smoke and mirrors. I believe he will be a first rounder and that is what everyone who suits up for a college game would dream of being. Good luck and stay healthy Manti and as always Go Irish.

  10. 1historian - Feb 18, 2013 at 10:33 PM

    “After struggling with Alabama’s massive defensive front”

    WRONG

    Teo plays defense, so it would follow that he struggled (which he did) against Alabama’s massive OFFENSIVE front.

    • dmacirish - Feb 19, 2013 at 10:57 AM

      this is where you and nudeman become douchebags. every once in a while you have a good comment that is either funny or has a good point to it – but then you become the spell check czar and editor in chief of the posted articles. if you would like a job helping keith proofread his articles why dont you ask him in private instead of being the arrogant person you are being?

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Feb 19, 2013 at 11:08 AM

        Well said. I don’t care if this is a Notre Dame blog, a Harvard blog or a Michigan State blog, the grammar/spellcheck zealots should just give it a rest and focus on the football element of the site. I’m not sure why it’s necessary to point out when improper conjugation, punctuation, and the like, as if these honest mistakes somehow detract from the information being conveyed.

        As for Te’o, he will have a long and lucrative career, winning some franchise a boatload of games, a few super bowls, while never, ever embarrassing himself, his teammates or his team the way that has become customary of NFL players. By the end of his career, the catfishing business will be little more than an afterthought.

      • idratherbeinsouthbend - Feb 19, 2013 at 1:20 PM

        I get it…i understand your thought process with the whole “spell check czar” idea…and i’ve been on both sides of it. I’ve been the guy correcting the errors and the guy that is annoyed by somebody correcting the errors.

        But having said that, why would anyone WANT the bar to be lowered? When I check my daughter’s math homework I don’t say “You got most of them right. Good enough.” OR maybe a better comparison….when we watch the Irish get beaten handily in the NC game, did we collectively say “12-1 is good enough.”

        There’s no reason to lower the expectations of an article written correctly. Somebody pays Keith to write this stuff. And while the motivation is clicks and page views rather than a Pulitzer, “any job worth doing is worth doing right”

        I sincerely doubt that Keith is offended by the noted mistakes and many times Keith corrects those mistakes.

        And finally..why did you lump nudey into that comment?

      • nudeman - Feb 19, 2013 at 1:41 PM

        In defense of myself on this topic:
        1) Yes, admittedly I am somewhat anal when it comes to spelling, punctuation, etc
        2) I never comment on a simple typo. We all make those mistakes. But poor use of the English language, run on sentences that have no subject or verb and compromise the point the writer is trying to make, using the word “of” as a verb (I could of screamed) instead of “have” … sorry, that sh** is 4th grade quality.
        3) I recently commented on Keith mangling a word. Let me issue the standard disclaimer that “I think Keith is great, does a great job, etc”. However, I do believe that Keith, who is paid to write for a living, should be held to a higher standard than one of us clowns pounding out something from a phone or between work related phone calls.
        4) For every time I comment on an English related thing here, there are 100 things I say nothing about.
        5) Don’t like it? Sue me. Frankly, I’m not sure I like it myself.

      • 1historian - Feb 19, 2013 at 2:03 PM

        I pointed out the rather obvious fact that Keith made a rather silly error and suddenly I am
        1) arrogant,
        2) a zealot,
        3) a douchebag

        In my defense – Saying ‘defensive’ when he obviously meant ‘offensive’ in obviously not a spelling error, nor did I accuse him of same. He made what is called a ‘mistake’ and I pointed it out.

        chill

      • dmacirish - Feb 19, 2013 at 2:42 PM

        i labeled you as arrogant more because of the way that you chose to point out the mistake rather than the fact that you actually did point out a mistake. i think we can all concede that a mistake between offensive and defensive word choice is one that could easily be made either in writing an article or during a conversation and would not retract from the actual point being made or the depth of the article that was written.

        maybe if you care to let keith know next time there is a mistake, because of your OCD and “our”-not-settling-for-less-than-perfect-on-a-blog-because-it-somehow-translates-to-settling-for-a-less-than-stellar-season-although-i-think-12-and-1-with-a-loss-in-the-NC-game-was-a-wonderful-season, you can do so with a little more discretion then posting a

        WRONG

        post script – ironically, 1historian, i believe that you used an incorrect word in your most recent post. would you like to review it and see if there is something you would like to change or would you prefer if someone else did?

        disclaimer: there is a good chance i have made a mistake above and look forward to your feedback on it.

      • nudeman - Feb 19, 2013 at 3:58 PM

        And dmac … with that post, this topic is officially out of control

      • 1historian - Feb 19, 2013 at 7:39 PM

        dmac – It is fitting indeed that YOU be the one to point out my typo. As soon as I send the post I spotted the mistake – too late. Breathlessly I waited, hoping that no one would notice it, but my fears were realized.

        Substitute the word ‘is’ for ‘in’

        In spotting that you proved yourself to be (brace your bad self)

        RIGHT

        Can we drop this silly subject?

      • 1historian - Feb 19, 2013 at 7:42 PM

        Re: previous post (7:39)

        Substitute ‘sent’ for ‘send’

        sigh

  11. ndnapa - Feb 19, 2013 at 1:12 AM

    I loved watching Teo for 4 years and will miss his immense talent. I think he’ll go in the 15-20 range, and I definitely could see the Giants or Bears drafting him. At worst, there’s no way Ozzie Newsome passes him up at #32.

  12. yaketyyacc - Feb 19, 2013 at 6:21 AM

    the NFL has shown that it is as naive on Draft Day as T’eo was on girlfriend day. Big big hype. and the ensuing results have left us laughing at the NFL and Its team organizations. So as far as being drafted by the NFL, it is not important to be drafted first as to be drafted at last. and then to have the ego driven owners extend their poor choices by extending contracts ad nauseum, i.e. Mark Sanchez of he New York Jets.
    T’eo is for real, will make a good linebacker, and be a credit to his team as he was to Notre Dame.
    good luck to all the young men competing to play the game they love, and whom we love to warch.

    • nudeman - Feb 19, 2013 at 2:12 PM

      Possibly the worst #1 pick ever by a team that usually drafted well was a qb named Jim Druckenmiller by the 49ers. One of the reasons they liked him was because he showed how strong he was by pulling a car like a mule in college.

      Jesus …

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Feb 19, 2013 at 3:27 PM

      nude,

      excellent use of “…”

      Without those three critical dots, it would have appeared as though you were signing your comment as Jesus. Now THAT would have been funny!

  13. oleolehey - Feb 19, 2013 at 8:42 AM

    Remember Brian Urlacher was a safety coming out of college! The kid has heart and has learned how to handle distractions.

  14. danirish - Feb 19, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    I hope he drops far enough in the draft that the Bears pick him up. God I’d love to see him in Chicago!

    Go Irish! And Da Bears!

    • nudeman - Feb 19, 2013 at 1:49 PM

      As a fellow Bears fan, sure, T’eo would be nice.

      But that’s hardly their #1, 2, or 3 need, even with Urlacher running out of gas. Would much rather see a great OT or another WR if there are decent players left at those positions when they pick. Or a QB because I’ve definitely soured on Cutler.

  15. idratherbeinsouthbend - Feb 19, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    WIth a projected 10-15 O-line and D-line players going in the first round, and the typical handful of overrated skill players, I’m not sure if Te’o gets picked in the first round.

    Clearly, i hope that he does, but there aren’t too many mock draft boards that have him in the first round. However, I have seen at least a couple of mock draft boards projecting Eif to go to the Bears.

  16. fnc111 - Feb 20, 2013 at 4:51 AM

    What an idiot King is to compare the two. Te’o is a good human being while Ogletree will be a person serving 10-15 someday. Get a clue Peter!

  17. cfballfan1 - Feb 20, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    Can’t wait to see that Wonderlic score!

    Related: is it even possible for a prospect to get a negative score? I guess we’ll just have to wait & see.

  18. acieu - Feb 21, 2013 at 6:02 AM

    Maybe he can get a battery powered pump for his blowup doll as part of his signup bonus.

  19. larrydavid7000 - Feb 24, 2013 at 9:58 AM

    NOT.!!!!!!!! ROLL TIDE.!!!!!!!!

  20. harvupdyke - Feb 25, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    Listed at 255, now weighing in at 240…plus the 4.8 40 time, The Hawaiian Rudy is now smaller & slower than most experts thought.

    What can we pin this on? Did he have an imaginary appetite to go along with his imaginary girlfriend? Everyone know he’s an imaginary run stopper…here comes the slide!

    Hot ass Alabama girlfriends go to Auburn.

    Roll Dam Tide

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