SAN DIEGO — “It’s a tremendous opportunity for me to fulfill my dream of being an NFL player. I’m looking forward to it; I’m really excited to start this new journey of my life here in San Diego and just excited to help us win a Super Bowl.”
That was how the Chargers second round draft pick Manti Te’o, 22, introduced himself to media Saturday.
The Chargers traded up to select the inside linebacker out of Notre Dame, who has become known more for his involvement in a years’ long hoax involving a fake girlfriend, than for his football abilities.
Te’o has adamantly denied any involvement in the hoax perpetrated against him.
In attempts to move on, he said that he continues to just concentrate on being himself. “What I learned from that is you can control certain things, but you can’t control other things, so learn to control the things you can and leave the things you can’t control up to those people.”
When talking to other teams before the draft, Te’o said he was happy to share his side of the story, “and tell them what happened was what happened. What I’m here to do is play football, and hopefully guys saw that.”
The Chargers apparently did, calling Te’o during the second round of the NFL draft.
“The first thing they said is, ‘Hey, it’s the San Diego Chargers.’ I talked to about five different people,” Te’o said. “I don’t know who I talked to, I don’t know what they said to me. I only know is right where they said it’s the San Diego Chargers. I just shut everything out and couldn’t wait to get off the phone and celebrate….
“It was just a great time for me. That’s when I knew…it was the next chapter in my life — I’m ready for it.”
Te’o’s expectations for the season: “To come in and do what I do and that’s study film, prepare. I’ll work hard and do my best to help this team win.”
The team also introduced wide receiver Keenan Allen, 21, their third round draft pick out of the University of California.
Allen left college his sophomore year after experiencing what he said was a growth on and off the field, and to try and take his next step up to the next level.
“Being a football player means everything to me,” he said. “I’ve been playing since I was 6 years old…It all means the world to me.”
The Chargers finished the 2013 draft with the selections of cornerback Stevie Williams in the fifth round; outside linebacker Tourek Williams in the sixth, and quarterback Brad Sorenson in the seventh round.