SAN DIEGO (AP) - Manti Te’o made it to the NFL a day later than he expected, motivated to play well because he was snubbed in the first round of the draft.
Unconcerned about a hoax involving a fake girlfriend and a flop in the national championship game that have dogged Te’o for four months, San Diego Chargers rookie general manager Tom Telesco moved up seven spots in the second round to draft the Notre Dame linebacker on Friday night.
“I did expect to go in the first round. But things happened and all it did was give me more motivation to get better,” Te’o said in a conference call with reporters.
Te’o had spent Thursday with family members in Hawaii, watching the first round of the draft and waiting for a phone call that never came.
That call came Friday.
“I don’t know if I have something to prove, but it definitely puts a huge fire under my butt to just be better,” Te’o said. “Again, that’s the best thing that ever could happen to me. I’m already naturally a motivated person who just wants to be the best. All yesterday did was just give me more motivation and more fire to just go out there and play football and do well at it.”
“He handled it great,” Telesco said.
Were the Chargers bothered by the scrutiny Te’o has been under?
“Obviously not. We took him,” Telesco said. “We did our due diligence. All that stuff is not a concern to us. So we’re just really, really excited to get him here. He took that Notre Dame program and kind of raised the talent level of the whole program. He was the undisputed leader there. We saw that.
“As a player, as a playmaker, he’s instinctive. We can’t wait to get him on the field.”
Telesco got Arizona’s second-round pick, No. 38, in exchange for San Diego’s second- (No. 45) and fourth-round (No. 110) picks.
“We knew somebody may come up to get him. It was strictly just a judgment, a gut call,” Telesco said. “Can we wait any longer? We made the move up to get him. Could we have waited? You just never know. We thought the value was there as far as giving up that pick to go get him.”