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Te’o begins life in the NFL

May 13, 2013, 10:41 AM EDT

Rookie draft pick Te'o stretches in front of head coach McCoy during the first day of the San Diego Chargers NFL rookie camp at the team's facilities in San Diego Reuters

With news light on the college football front (we’re still putting the pieces together for some long-form offseason features), let’s take a quick look at San Diego, where Manti Te’o‘s life as an NFL football player just got started.

Te’o debuted at rookie minicamp, where reporters and coaches got their first look at the former Notre Dame All-American, the second round draft pick of the Chargers. Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, in his popular Monday Morning Quarterback column, chronicled Te’o’s first days as a professional, just a few weeks after signing a four-year rookie contract that’ll be worth an estimated $5.1 million.

While he slid a dozen picks farther down the draft than most expected, Te’o’s still projected to be an immediate plug and play player for the Chargers. Here’s a snippet of King take on the Chargers new inside linebacker, now sporting #50, in honor of the state of Hawaii.

San Diego coach Mike McCoy told me Sunday, after the rookie minicamp, that the staff expects Te’o to be an every-down linebacker. He said Te’o will take his place as the starting Mike linebacker — the strongside ‘backer in San Diego’s 3-4 defense, alongside veteran Donald Butler — in team drills when OTAs begin. “Our plan is for him to play three downs, and when we scouted him, we believed that’s what he’d be,” McCoy said. “But he’ll have to earn that, obviously. We’re going to play the best guys, and if he’s the best guy on all three downs, he’ll be in there.”


What he told reporters last week won’t surprise those who knew him well at Notre Dame when the subject of dealing with the veterans came up. It was the right answer. “You’ve just got to keep your head down,” Te’o said. “Know you’re a rookie. Keep your head down, keep your head in the playbook. Work hard. Obviously, you’ve got to earn the respect of the veterans. That will come in time. But with what I’m going to do with my work ethic, that will come soon.”

Local media reported that there was five times as many reporters on hand for rookie minicamp than ever before, with all eyes on Te’o. The NFL Network sent Alex Flanagan, no stranger to Te’o, and while it’s tough to gather too much from a rookie working out with other rookies in helmets and shorts, Te’o was reportedly at the front of every line and leading the way.

That’s the best way for Te’o to work his way out of a Tebow-like celebrity spotlight and back into the role of football player. He may not ever be anonymous, but Te’o sounds smart enough to know he’s got to earn the respect of his teammates first.

  1. mtflsmitty - May 13, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    It’s a shame the hoax put such an awkward and negative spin on Manti. But I will always think of the great contributions he made, and the amazing 2012 he had. He’s going to be a very solid ILB in the NFL for a VLT.

    Good luck, Manti. Enjoy.

  2. mtb1996 - May 13, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    The sensationalized media tried to tear him down, but character and hard work will always win out and he’s got loads of both. I believe that years from now after a long and successful career in the NFL and countless examples of social work off the field… he’ll be a legend, and one stupid catfishing scheme will all but be forgotten.

  3. mediocrebob - May 13, 2013 at 1:36 PM

    Can’t wait til he shuts his haters up.

  4. harvupdyke - May 13, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    Remember that NFL stands for Not For Long.

    Fake girlfriends & dopey twitter/Facebook stories aside, one must have talent to play in this league. Just because he is the first in every drill line doesn’t mean he has talent – it doesn’t even mean he’s a leader. Just means he’s first in line.

    We’ll see what he does on Sundays & judging by his performance in the nat’l title game, he doesn’t handle NFL level talent well.

    Roll dam tide.

    • thefightinfloyds - May 13, 2013 at 4:30 PM

      A 5 star recruit out of HS, started 4 years and got better every year, had an amazing senior year and was the captain on one of the all time great defenses in ND history. He nearly won every single defensive award last season and finished 2nd in the Heisman…Ya, what a no talent hack. If he wouldve played for an SEC team he would be a top 10 pick right? I mean the SEC is all powerful, its not like a team could come in from an outside league and just start punking LSU, Aub, Ole Miss, Ten and sacred Alabama with a freshman QB because the SEC is just way to good for that…right?

    • mtflsmitty - May 13, 2013 at 6:28 PM


      No hard feelings. I love blowing my pals crap about their teams, etc. When we get together that’s part of the ritual. It’s fun. But I don’t have enough time to follow my own team as much as I’d like; much less find their team fan blogs and post there. It’s amazing to me that you have the TIME AND INTEREST to come post here.

      You may be drawn to Keith’s writing. Perhaps you love the witty banter supplied by the high quality regulars here (I’m not included in that bunch). Or maybe the NC game experience gave you a chance to learn something about the quality of Notre Dame and the people who love what she stands for. And although you hate yourself for it you can’t get enough.

  5. mcirish27 - May 13, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    Yeah, I agree. He didn’t really show that he was much of a linebacker the past 4 years, did he? Solid analysis, Harv!

  6. jvsirish - May 13, 2013 at 5:35 PM

    After ya’ grew up and stopped jumpin’ stumps I’m hopin’ the marriage to your cousin worked out. You’re a really smart guy!!

  7. fnc111 - May 13, 2013 at 6:36 PM

    How quickly everyone in the nation will forget about this past off season when Manti makes his first bone crushing hit in a game. He’ll be fine, will start, and show he has talent.

    • Jennifer - May 13, 2013 at 7:13 PM

      Harv-up-chuck-dyke, you are an embarrassment not only to yourself, but to all decent Tide Fans. Do yourself, and the sorry folks who have to endure you, this simple favor: “Turn off the sorry broken 3-year-old-brat-kid N’ya-N’ya” record that keeps playing in your head and THINK!” After that novelty finally settles in, Google “The Golden Rule.” You’ll love it. (It’s actually embedded in the Golden Dome at ND, and that’s why you’re (barely) tolerated here.)

      • papadec - May 13, 2013 at 10:05 PM

        Welcome home Jen – long time, no see – thanks for kickin’ the troll (Harv) to the curb – saved me the time & aggravation. Nicely done! I was just going to tell him to go have sex with himself – or something else crude.

      • mtflsmitty - May 14, 2013 at 2:21 PM


        i had Intended to extend wishes for happy Mothers Day. Late as always, but happy Moms Day just the same.

  8. wisner74 - May 13, 2013 at 8:24 PM

    I’ve followed this site for years, and post rarely. Why any of you high quality posters (fnc111 excluded) would even bother to respond to Harv is beyond me.

    • papadec - May 13, 2013 at 10:08 PM

      wis74 – I don’t consider myself a high quality poster – just a former active duty Marine that gets tired of the trolls & ………….well there you go.

      • Jennifer - May 15, 2013 at 5:15 PM

        Thanks, mtfismitty! I had a great Mother’s Day! And papadec, we’ve been around this gig since the beginning, and you probably know by now that the trolls really confound me after awhile. I should probably just light a candle for the repose of their souls, but, well, you know….!

    • idratherbeinsouthbend - May 14, 2013 at 12:07 AM


      I respond to Harv because it’s kinda like talking to somebody that is completely wasted. They say stupid stuff and if you keep talking to them, they continue to say stupid stuff.

      Ignorance amuses me. Stupidity amuses me.

      It’s the only way to get through the day sometimes….find joy in dealing with the brain dead people of this world.

      Plus, i love it when he finishes his posts with “Roll Dam Tide” instead of “Roll Damn Tide”…it’s kinda like he’s proving our point :)

  9. papadec - May 13, 2013 at 10:19 PM

    Someone might want to tell the Incredible Bulk @ Blue to stop the name calling & crying about the suspension of the games with ND – and talk to his AD. If I remember correctly, THEY were the ones who slipped Jack Swarbrick the Dear John goodbye note before the game.

    • bernhtp - May 14, 2013 at 7:34 AM

      No, Swarbrick slipped Michigan’s AD the envelope with the series cancelation notification. With that said, Michigan had previously optioned to suspend the series, but not until a couple of years later. Notre Dame’s decision was to move the suspension up and without any planned resumption.

      I do find the chicken comment amusing, especially given the history between the two schools. Michigan’s Yost cancelled the original series after Rockne beat him, and then used anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant sentiment to blackball Notre Dame from playing other schools in the region. This is a major reason why Notre Dame went coast to coast to find games and gained its national fanbase, rivalries, and independence.

      Muck Fichigan.

      • papadec - May 14, 2013 at 9:12 PM

        bern – thanks for the correction. I know I count on you for the accurate history. I knew it was UM that asked for the first suspension. Makes Jack’s KMA note, before the game, even better.

      • bernhtp - May 14, 2013 at 9:23 PM

        Swarbrick is smart, lawyerly, competitive and forced to be dignified. This is as close as he can get to smack talk and KMA MF.

      • dickasman - May 14, 2013 at 11:22 PM

        I am starting to root for this guy again but I have a feeling that he will test the bible. Bern, do you have any inside scoop on him being a hay? I will have to taper my enthusiasm some but ill get over it, I think…

  10. yaketyyacc - May 14, 2013 at 6:53 AM

    what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. …or as our victory march echos… what though the odds be great or small… realistically, Manti faces great odds. my belief, Manti will meet these obstacles head on and emerge the better man for it.
    those of you whose joy in life is to kick someone when they are down, only serve to prove the Bard correct… cowards die many times before their death… and I take offence that in your cowardly act, you try to legitimize it by including the name of a great university, Alabama.

  11. 1historian - May 14, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    Manti – thanks for 4 great years and best of luck in your future endeavors

  12. jerseyshorendfan1 - May 14, 2013 at 8:14 PM

    You guys are really gonna give me the thumbs down on this but I hear Lennay Kekua is settling in nicely in San Diego (which, if I’m not mistaken actually means “whale’s vagina”). Okay, there, I said it and I do believe that it’s officially out of my system now. See thumbs down below……

    • papadec - May 14, 2013 at 9:18 PM

      joisey – joisey – joisey. Glad you got that off your chest – take a few deep breaths, drink a cold one, and get ready for another great ND football campaign. The Defense will lead the way in ’13 – again! GO IRISH!!!!!!!!!

      • Jennifer - May 15, 2013 at 5:17 PM


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