Te'o visits Giants, has Tuck's endorsement
April, 12, 2013
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com
Matt Cashore/USA TODAY SportsManti Te'o met with the Giants on Thursday night and Friday and left Friday afternoon.Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o visited the New York Giants, a source confirmed.
Te'o met with the Giants on Thursday night and Friday and left Friday afternoon. The visit was first reported by the South Bend Tribune. The Tribune reports that Te'o will meet with his seventh team, San Diego, on Monday.
The Giants own the 19th pick in the draft and Te'o is expected by most draft experts to go anywhere around where the Giants draft to the late first round. Linebacker is a position of need since the Giants finished 25th against the run last year. They signed Dan Connor in free agency, and he and Mark Herzlich are expected to compete for the starting middle linebacker job.
GM Jerry Reese said at the scouting combine that he was more concerned about Te'o's football skills than the Internet girlfriend hoax. Reese said he would let Te'o explain his situation to the Giants once the linebacker was brought in for a visit.
One Giant who knows Te'o believes the linebacker would be a good addition.
"I think it is a step in the right place," Justin Tuck said when asked about Te'o on Thursday on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. "The whole thing doesn't come to fruition about the hoax, then nobody is even questioning what he did on the football field. Yes, Alabama might have exposed him a little bit [in the national championship game]. But Alabama exposed a lot of people.
"I think Manti has handled this situation as best as he can and has shown some maturity about it, and regardless of where he ends up, it still is going to be kind of a black cloud above his head for a while."
Tuck, who is a former Notre Dame standout, told Te'o to play with the passion he has had throughout his entire career, and that will help the girlfriend hoax eventually dissipate.
"If we are lucky enough to have him, I think it is a step in the right direction," Tuck said. "He is going to be a pretty good player. When I see Manti, I probably will joke around about [the hoax], but it is about how he moves forward from that. That is the only thing you can judge a man on. We have all made mistakes."
The Giants have not drafted a linebacker in the first round since 1984, when they selected Carl Banks. Reese can use another pass-rusher, offensive lineman, cornerback and safety, as well.
But if the Giants opt to draft Te'o, the linebacker would have a veteran mentor in place. Tuck says it is key that a veteran help Te'o's transition in the locker room with other players.
"Say he does end up with us, hopefully that is something I can help him with," Tuck said. "And help other guys. I can move the conversation on and say, 'Listen man, he made a mistake.' Hopefully, wherever he ends up, there is a vet guy with that same mentality because the guy can play football.
"If you allow him to play football and keep his mind clear as much as possible -- which is not going to be 100 percent because fans [can be] cruel, and they are going to have some creative ways of reminding him of that -- but as long as he can have that locker-room sanity, I think he will help whoever drafts him."
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