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“He’s one of the finest kids I’ve met,” Telesco said. “He loves football, is passionate about it. He’s a leader. He was a leader at Notre Dame, not only on the football team, but on that campus.”

Two officials, each with a different team, said their clubs passed on Te’o in the first round partly because of his off-field issues. The men, speaking on condition of anonymity because team draft strategy is confidential, said the decision was not just because of a disappointing combine performance or the linebacker’s poor performance in the national title game.

The Heisman Trophy runner-up became the butt of national jokes after it was revealed he was duped into an Internet romance he had with a girlfriend he never met.

The too-good-to-be-true story began with Te’o’s incredible performances after learning his grandmother and what he believed was his girlfriend had died within hours of one another in September. Te’o said it inspired him to play his best football all season, and it was so compelling that it helped turn Te’o into a Heisman Trophy contender as he was leading the Fighting Irish to an undefeated regular season and into the national championship game.

On Dec. 26, Te’o notified Notre Dame officials that he had received a call from his supposedly dead girlfriend’s phone three weeks earlier.

The school investigated and on Jan. 16 _ after Deadspin.com broke the story of the fake girlfriend _ athletic director Jack Swarbrick announced at a news conference that Te’o had been duped. Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, 22, later said he created the online persona of Lennay Kekua, a nonexistent woman whom Te’o said he fell in love with despite never meeting her in person.

Te’o struggled in Notre Dame’s blowout loss in the national championship game to Alabama and its offense full of future NFL draft picks. One of those players, right tackle D.J. Fluker, was drafted by the Chargers with the 11th overall pick Thursday night.

Te’o said everything he’s gone through has increased his passion for the game because “that’s my sanctuary, that’s my fortress where I’m most comfortable. All it has done is made me look forward to when I’m back on that field again.”

Te’o will get plenty of attention before he even plays a game with the Bolts.

“This is going to be a football team. He’s going to have to deal with it,” McCoy said. “The situation came up, he’ll deal with that. People are going to have questions, OK? That’s happened. He’s going to learn from it, very similar to a lot of other people in life. You make a mistake from time to time, whatever that is, and you move on. You learn from it. It might come up at some point in time, but we’ll deal with it however we need to. But he’s one of ours now and he’s going to help us win a championship here.”

Te’o said going to the Chargers is “a perfect scenario. My parents can come and watch, I can go home, it’s San Diego. We’re all excited. I can’t be any happier. Just looking forward to getting up there and getting this whole thing started.

“You talk about the Chargers, especially for a Samoan kid like me and you think of Junior Seau and what he did there and the legacy he left behind not only in San Diego but in the NFL,” he said, mentioning the Chargers‘ late star linebacker.

A four-year starter and team captain, Te’o had 113 tackles, seven interceptions _ the most ever in a season by a Fighting Irish linebacker _ and 1 1/2 sacks in 2012.

Te’o said he’s going to be the same player in the pros as he was in college.

“I love the game, first and foremost. I’m a student of the game. I love to study film. I work hard. That’s exactly what I’m going to be. I’m not going to change anything.”

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