The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

April 27, 2013

Chargers take Manti Te'o in 2nd round of NFL draft

(Continued)

"As a player, as a playmaker, he's instinctive. We can't wait to get him on the field."

Telesco said the Chargers had Te'o rated as a first-rounder. They needed an inside linebacker because Takeo Spikes was released and Demorrio Williams is a free agent.

Telesco got Arizona's second-round pick, No. 38, in exchange for San Diego's second- (No. 45) and fourth-round (No. 110) picks.

"We knew somebody may come up to get him. It was strictly just a judgment, a gut call," Telesco said. "Can we wait any longer? We made the move up to get him. Could we have waited? You just never know. We thought the value was there as far as giving up that pick to go get him."

Before being hired by the Chargers, Telesco was in the Indianapolis Colts' front office and had seen Te'o play several times.

"He's one of the finest kids I've met," Telesco said. "He loves football, is passionate about it. He's a leader. He was a leader at Notre Dame, not only on the football team, but on that campus."

Two officials, each with a different team, said their clubs passed on Te'o in the first round partly because of his off-field issues. The men, speaking on condition of anonymity because team draft strategy is confidential, said the decision was not just because of a disappointing combine performance or the linebacker's poor performance in the national title game.

The Heisman Trophy runner-up became the butt of national jokes after it was revealed he was duped into an Internet romance he had with a girlfriend he never met.

The too-good-to-be-true story began with Te'o's incredible performances after learning his grandmother and what he believed was his girlfriend had died within hours of one another in September. Te'o said it inspired him to play his best football all season, and it was so compelling that it helped turn Te'o into a Heisman Trophy contender as he was leading the Fighting Irish to an undefeated regular season and into the national championship game.

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