Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Te'o 'at home' at ND, answers big questions
By Matt Fortuna
Manti Te'o said at his pro day on Tuesday that he hoped to put his controversial offseason behind him.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Back at his home away from home, competing beside the same players and facing the same media contingent he had answered to the past four years, Manti Te'o turned to the man to his left and publicly thanked his former Notre Dame teammate and fellow co-captain for helping him get through the past two months.
"It's been amazing. The two places I call home, there's been nothing but support; here in South Bend, the Notre Dame community, and back at home, and they've just been home," Te'o said. "Guys have reached out to me and my family, just been so supportive. And for me, I was just very blessed.
"This guy next to me, I'm eternally indebted to this guy," he continued, pointing to former Fighting Irish tight end Tyler Eifert, "because that was possibly the hardest time of my life, going through that. And I was lucky to have one of my best friends with me. This guy checked up on me every day. Came over when I said I don't want nobody to talk to. He knocked the door down and said, 'Hey, let's play some video games or something.' So to have Eif there, it was a blessing in disguise for me."
Te'o calmed down questions about his speed Tuesday during Notre Dame's pro day, running his 40-yard dashes in 4.75 and 4.71 seconds, respectively, according to ESPN's Todd McShay. Te'o had drawn eyeballs for the wrong reasons at last month's NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, when he was timed at 4.82.
No official times were given Tuesday, though Te'o said he was told by one scout that he clocked in at 4.69.
Both he and Eifert will stay here to train in the month leading up to the April 25 NFL draft, and both said they will watch from home with their families rather than attending in person in New York.
Though Tuesday was the final public hurdle Te'o needed to clear following an offseason in which it was revealed that he was the victim of a catfishing hoax and later failed to meet physical expectations at the combine, the linebacker said he did not approach the opportunity like one last job interview, a philosophy Eifert echoed.
"It seems that way, and it gets hyped up that way with things on TV and the combine, but at the end of the day it is your film that really matters," said Eifert, widely considered the top tight end in the draft. "So people that have been doing this for a while remind us of that, take some of the pressure off it. It's not make or break if you don't do well at the combine or at pro day; you've shown what you can do on tape and that's what really matters."
For Te'o, the Lennay Kekua saga is a thing of the past.
"For me it is," he said. "I'm just glad that I'm out here playing football. I'm back home. I'm with my guys. I'm around this building, and so that stuff is long gone."
Now comes the waiting game, a 30-day process that will likely feature a few fewer nerves following a performance Tuesday that looked fairly familiar to those inside the Guglielmino Athletics Complex.
"I felt good," Te'o said. "I'm at home now. I'm in a place where I'm comfortable, surrounded by people that I know. And I thought I did pretty good. I was pretty pleased with the way I performed and very pleased with how we all performed as a whole. I think we all represented Notre Dame the way it should be."