NEW YORK (AP) — Manti Te’o must wait one more day to find out his future after a tumultuous four months.
The Notre Dame linebacker was not taken in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday. And so fans — and even people who don’t normally care about football — will buzz for another 24 hours about the fake girlfriend hoax and its repercussions on his football career.
But what likely dropped Te’o to the second round had little to do with the tabloid-ready story of the woman who supposedly died during the season, only for the Heisman Trophy runner-up to acknowledge in January that he had been a victim of a hoax. Before those revelations, Te’o struggled in the national championship game against Alabama and its offense full of future NFL draft picks — leaving clubs to wonder how he would fare against similar talent in the pros.
Then he ran a 4.82-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, considered slow for a linebacker. He did better at Notre Dame’s pro day, but NFL teams already had plenty of football reasons to doubt his worthiness as a first-round pick.
The regular-season dominance by the 6-foot-1, 240-pound All-American now seems so long ago. He led one of the top defenses in the country for an undefeated team. His seven interceptions were more than any other linebacker in 2012, and he finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Te’o was considered a late first-round or early second-round pick heading into the draft, which he did not attend. The second and third rounds take place Friday.