Shortly after being selected with the 38th overall selection in this year’s draft, Manti Te’o spoke with Chargers.com for a wide ranging interview. Here’s what he had to say:
Chargers.com: So when did you realize you were going to be a San Diego Charger?
Te’o: Oh man, they just called me and another team was up, but I saw it was a California phone number. I answered and I was just excited.
Chargers.com: Who did you speak with? How did that conversation go?
Te’o: I was just so excited I can’t even remember. All I remember is them asking me, ‘How would you like to be a San Diego Charger?’ Then I talked to the owner and man, I’m just excited right now.
Chargers.com: Many predicted you would be a first round pick. Does the fact you fell into the second round motivate you?
Te’o: Oh definitely. It’s great motivation for me to go out there and just get better, and that’s what I intend to do.
Chargers.com: The Chargers traded up to get you so you know they really wanted you on this team. How much does it mean for you to have someone make a deal to make sure they got you?
Te’o: That means a lot to me. Being a Charger means a lot to me right now. It’s a great organization. The coaches and the front office, it’s a great organization and I want to reward them for picking me. I’m going to do whatever it takes to help us win.
Chargers.com: How much contact did you have with the Chargers during this draft process?
Te’o: I didn’t have too much contact until I went out on my team visit. Other than that it wasn’t a lot.
Chargers.com: There is a proud tradition of linebackers here in San Diego with Junior Seau. What is it like to join that rich tradition?
Te’o: It means I’m going to do whatever it takes to carry on that tradition that guys like him started. I want to make him proud. He was a dominant linebacker, and that’s what I want to be. This team has a history of great linebackers and I want to be a part of that tradition.
Chargers.com: The Chargers deploy a 3-4 defensive scheme. Were you hoping you’d be drafted on a team that played a 3-4?
Te’o: Notre Dame played a 3-4 the last few years, so for me I’ve got to learn the new terminology and I’ll go from there. But to be honest with you, it didn’t really matter to me if I went to a 3-4 or a 4-3. I have played both before.
Chargers.com: What are the strengths to your game?
Te’o: My football intelligence. The way I get to the ball and my pursuit. And another thing I take pride in is my overall effort.
Chargers.com: And what do you need to improve upon?
Te’o: You know, I need to learn to use my hands better and learn new techniques to get off blockers better. Sometimes I need to be more patient and depend on my instincts.
Chargers.com: You have dealt with a tremendous deal of scrutiny lately. How has that helped prepare you for the NFL?
Te’o: It’s definitely made me stronger. Dealing with adversity, it can hurt you or make you stronger, and it definitely made me stronger. That’s how I feel right now.
Chargers.com: Finally, here’s your first chance to say something to the San Diego Chargers fans. What message do you want to give to them?
Te’o: I want them to know they’ve got a player who really cares and loves this game. I’ll do whatever it takes to be the best. I understand that this is my job now and this is a job I love doing. You’ll see how much I love it when I play.