Manti Te'o #5 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish warms up prior to playing against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game at Sun Life Stadium on January 7, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Notre Dame's Manti Te'o selected by San Diego with the 38th pick in the NFL draft.
Te'o was thrust into the spotlight earlier this year when it was revealed that he had been involved in an elaborate hoax.
The Notre Dame All-America linebacker was chosen sixth in the second round by the Chargers, drawing a loud roar from the fans at Radio City Music Hall.
Te'o, who led the Fighting Irish to the national championship game, was projected as a first-rounder last year. But his poor performance in a rout at the hands of Alabama, some slow workouts, and a hoax involving a fake girlfriend that became a national soap opera dropped his stock.
The Chargers seem more concerned with his ability to make tackles than his off-the-field drama.
“He’s a great kid," said Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco. "We did a lot of work on Te’o and I’ve seen him for a number of years. He loves football. He’s passionate about it. He loves to practice. He loves to play. He’ll bring that to us.”
One of the first things Chargers head coach Mike McCoy said when he took the job in San Diego was, everyone is starting with a clean slate.
Te'o could use a clean slate. The Notre Dame linebacker was one of the best players in college football in 2012. But, the well-publicized story about him having a girlfriend that did not exist made him famous for a very different reason.
Te'o went from being interviewed by NFL general managers to being interviewed by Katie Couric. And now he's coming to San Diego.
The Chargers traded up in the 2nd round of the NFL Draft, from 45 to 38, to select the Fightin' Irish All-American linebacker.
If you look at it in a vacuum, it's a great pick for the Bolts. They added a quality player at a position of need. San Diego only has a handful of middle linebackers on the roster, and only Donald Butler and D.J. Smith have ever started an NFL game.
“We thought, on our defense, we were missing that other inside linebacker," said Telesco. "Te’o can step in. We thought he was the most instinctive and productive linebacker in the draft. He’s going to fit in excellent with our 3-4 defense with how we’re going to play our linebackers. He’s going to compliment Donald Butler really well. We thought in order to get him we had to be aggressive and go up and do it.”
Te'o won a handful of awards his senior season, including the Walter Camp Award (player of the year), Maxwell Award (most outstanding player), and Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year). He was also a Heisman Trophy finalist.
Telesco is fond of saying he wants players who love playing football. He found one in Te'o.
Te'o will visit San Diego Saturday at 2 p.m. to discuss his new home team. You can watch the livestream on the Chargers website.