Many have wondered whether the bizarre scandal that embroiled linebacker Manti Te’o could have an effect on his draft stock, but don’t count Te’o himself in that camp.
In an interview with USA Today, Te’o said he thinks his play speaks for itself and hopes he’ll be evaluated solely on that when the NFL combine starts later this week.
“What I did on the field is what I did on the field,” Te’o told the newspaper Monday. “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.
“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.”
ESPN.com draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay currently have Te’o being selected at No. 13 and No. 20 in their respective mock drafts.
Te’o had been viewed as a possible top five draft pick before it came to light that he had been the victim of an elaborate hoax that created a woman that later became his girlfriend.
Despite the media firestorm that followed once the truth was unraveled, Te’o is adamant all of that can be put in the past.
“I have to just go out there and perform and all that other stuff is behind me,” Te’o told the paper.
Outsiders have also noted the focus that Te’o has shown in spite all that has happened.
“He missed precisely one day,” said former NFL quarterback Chris Weinke, the director of football operations at IMG Academy where Te’o has been preparing for the combine.
“He’s gone about his business and been the same guy all along,” Weinke said. “I really admire that because a lot of guys his age would not be able to handle this as well as he has. I haven’t seen any signs of it being a distraction and I expect him to go up to Indianapolis and have a great combine.”