As the NFL’s scouting combine gets underway in Indianapolis on Wednesday, Manti Te’o who was projected as a top five draft pick, has much to prove to NFL scouts and teams following the wake of one of the most bizarre stories in sports. It was a story that created questions surrounding the Heisman Trophy runner-up’s mental toughness and judgment. In an interview with USA TODAY published on Tuesday, Te’o talked about the distraction of the hoax and the hard work ahead of him to prove his stock with NFL teams.
He told USA TODAY:
"I have to just go out there and perform and all that other stuff is behind me. What I did on the field is what I did on the field. I don’t think what I did with this whole situation; I don’t understand how it takes away from what I did on the field."
Te’o knows and understands the ridicule the situation put on his character and is ready put forth an effort and has gotten rid of any other distractions that may disrupt his determination.
"As far as my stock dropping or rising, that’s not up to me. The only thing I have to do is just do well, run fast, just be myself, be quick."
One of those distractions is social media where Te’o became a victim in a trend known as "Catfishing" where Te’o developed a relationship with his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, who actually never existed. He said he shut down his Twitter account and will be weary of returning to social media outlets.
For now, Mani Te’o’s focus is on his professional football career and show experts that his worth as an athlete should be determined on the field.
NFL Network analyst Charles Davis believes Te’o will have it tougher than other players at the combine.
"he’s going to have to run the gauntlet at the combine. Because in those 15-minute meetings, teams are going to smoke him over pretty well. Probably more so to see how he holds up."
Davis says that what happened to Te’o as far as being "punked" is a "societal problem" and teams will want to see how Manti holds up under pressure to just make sure they have it right.
Manti Te’o is projected to go as low as 32 in the first round by some NFL draft analysts.