Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Manti Te'o's NFL Draft Stock Could End Up Unchanged

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Manti Te'o's NFL Draft Stock Could End Up Unchanged

Article excerpt

On Wednesday morning, Manti Te'o was a more or less glistening, relatively welt-free NFL prospect with one significant but not really treacherous question to answer: Why had he played so terribly in the biggest game of his otherwise superior college career?

By the end of the day ...?

In various forms, from various voices and in various contexts, Te'o's name wound up elbow to elbow with Cam Newton, Randy Moss and Lawrence Phillips.

The Heisman Trophy runner-up was still a presumed first-round NFL draft pick in April, but that was the collateral damage of a hoax involving a fake dead girlfriend and Te'o's part in it, and the character questions that followed whether the player was an unwitting victim or not.

"He's going to have to explain this about 32 ... times now, in an interview room or whatever," said one NFL scout who requested anonymity because his team prohibits media interaction. "He's going to have to explain the whole thing and [his] agent is going to have to prep him on it.

"He's going to have to have some kind of story that is the same with everybody, or there are going to be even more questions. Is this stable? Did he get screwed? You have to give the kid the benefit of the doubt, but you have to research this thing and find every single angle you can."

Late Friday night, Te'o came clean at last to ESPN and began the rehabilitation process for injuries no one has seen before. He was the subject of a scam involving the death of a fictitious girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, that provided the backdrop to a season that put him in the top half of the first round of 2013 mock drafts almost everywhere.

To virtually no one's knowledge, it swelled in late December and early January and then Te'o had the disastrous performance against Alabama in the BCS championship game. Now every NFL team will work to reassemble the pieces and see if the picture of Te'o looks the same.

"As long as I've been in the National Football League, I've never seen a situation like this," said Gil Brandt, a former longtime Cowboys personnel executive and current NFL. …

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