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Sun., Jul. 19, 2015 7:30 AM PDT
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Te'o: "All I Want to Do is Play Football"
The Manti Te’o frenzy has now hit San Diego.
After spending several controversy-filled months stuck in the limelight, Te’o has officially taken off and couldn’t be happier with where he has landed. The Chargers moved up seven spots in a trade with the Arizona Cardinals to grab the former Notre Dame inside linebacker.
“I was just excited,” he said. “When they called me, I looked on the list and Cincinnati was up next and Arizona was up next and I had a California area code. I wasn’t sure what was going on. I thought it was one of my friends trying to call me. When I answered the phone, they said ‘Hey it’s the Chargers,’ … I was just so excited.”
Despite being projected as a first-round selection, Te’o fell to the second round but still kept a positive attitude.
“He cheered me up when I called him,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly told NFL Network. “He’s like ‘Coach, don’t worry about it. We’re going to be fine.’ He just wants the opportunity – got a great opportunity with the San Diego Chargers. Coach (Mike) McCoy coming in as a new guy in there. I think everyone starts with a clean slate. I think it’s going to be great. Obviously, he’s very versatile. Playing in the 3-4 defense, I know there’s some familiarity with the 3-4 there in San Diego, but he can play any defense. He’s just a really good football player.”
“For me, I expected to go in the first round, but things happened,” Te’o said. “All it did was give me more motivation to get better. I’m already naturally a motivated person, who just wants to be the best.”
The Chargers’ selection of Te’o means the Hawaii native will be able to stay close to home.
“It’s a perfect scenario,” Te’o said. “Being right here next to home, my parents can come watch. I can go home. It’s San Diego. We’re all excited. I can’t be any happier. Just looking forward to getting up there and getting this whole thing started. You can only imagine their reaction. Everybody was jumping up and down; everybody was happy. To go there and for it to be close to home, it can’t get any better than that.”
Despite all of the distractions and outside chatter about his personal life, Te’o is happy to have a new home where he is comfortable.
“I think for me, I’m excited to play football,” Te’o said. “I can’t control what people say. Honestly, I really don’t pay too much attention. I came here to play football. That’s all I want to do is play football and take care of my family, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I just know about this team is a team that’s hungry for a championship. Just being around the guys, like I said just a close-knit team. Everybody seems to get along well. When I went over there, everybody seemed cool and I was very comfortable there.”