He’s eagerly anticipated his next chance to get out on the field and show what he can do.
That day came Friday, the first time he took the field as a Charger.
Along with 39 other players, Te’o took part in the Chargers rookie mini camp and turned heads with his strong play, reminding everyone why he was the runner up for this year’s Heisman Trophy award.
“It’s great to have players like (Te’o) on your football team,” said Head Coach Mike McCoy. “A natural leader. A good person. He loves the game of football and that’s a big thing we’re looking at in players to draft and bring in to the organization. We want guys who love the game, and he’s a gym rat. He loves the game…. He did a great job. Like we talked about D.J. (Fluker) being the vocal one on offense, he was the vocal player on defense. That’s why we took him where we did and we’re looking for great things from him.”
Te’o, in turn, expects great things from himself. In order to accomplish his goals, the inside linebacker works as hard as anyone else in the league preparing himself both mentally and physically for the upcoming game.
“I’ve always lived by a quote that says, ‘Hard work will beat talent when talent doesn’t work hard,’” he explained. “I never wanted to be that guy that didn’t work hard. I knew that my work ethic was going to be the thing that was going to pull me through. I’m not the fastest. I’m not the strongest but I’m definitely one to work hard. I try to outwork everybody that I go up against. That’s usually been to my benefit. I’m always in the weight room. I’m trying to get stronger any way I can but one of my strengths is in the film room to prepare myself mentally for the game because a lot of this game is played mentally. A little bit is played physically. Your mind tells your body to move and then it moves. I try to get my preparation to that point.”
“I think if you want to be the best at this game, you have to be a well-rounded player,” he said. “I’ve always believed that. I never wanted to be a one-dimensional linebacker. I want to make sure that every aspect of my game I improve on and continue to do that and hopefully become a three-down linebacker.”
Finally, Te’o provided a nugget of information many fans have been clamoring for – why did he choose to switch to number 50?
“I’m always proud of where I come from and I want to represent where I come from and the people. I felt like if I can’t be number five then the next best thing for me was to be 50—representing Hawaii, representing the Polynesian people—and now all that matters is that I got to perform, it doesn’t mean anything if I just have the number and I’m not doing anything with it. I have to perform.”