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Te‘o says he’s eager for pro day

March 2, 2013
By ROB MAADDI , The Associated Press

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - Manti Te'o is focused on getting faster.

The former Notre Dame star and Heisman Trophy runner-up, who was clocked at 4.82 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine last week, said he expects to improve his time at his pro day on March 26.

"I'm glad I have another opportunity to run it," he said Friday. "I'm training hard and looking forward to it."

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Manti Te‘o

The linebacker was in New Jersey to accept the Maxwell Football Club's Maxwell Award for collegiate player of the year and Chuck Bednarik Award for collegiate defensive player of the year.

Te'o spoke to reporters for nearly six minutes, but wouldn't address in much detail his highly publicized online romance with a girlfriend that was exposed as a hoax, with the woman's persona created by someone else.

The Punahou School graduate stopped short of calling the embarrassment a "distraction," but admitted it weighed heavily on his mind.

"It's difficult to balance things and to stay focused on what you have to do but for me, I'm glad that the combine is done," Te'o said. "I'm finished (with) that and now I'm focused on specific things like my 40 and I don't have to worry so much about other things and definitely it's difficult. I'm not going to say it's easy but it's something you can work through."

Asked what he expects to run in the 40, Te'o said: "Obviously faster than a 4.8. We'll see what happens."

He said he was timed under 4.7 before the combine.

After the news conference at Harrah's Resort Atlantic City, Te'o walked through the casino with the hood on his sweatshirt pulled up. He was flanked by security guards.

Te'o said he tries to "avoid a lot of the (extracurricular) stuff" now.

"Knowing what you can control and what you can't control," he said. "What I can control is making myself the best player I can be and the best person. I tend to focus on that."

Te'o participated in five of the seven drills at the combine, and did not finish ranked among the top five at his position in any of them.

"As a football player, that's one of the big steppingstones growing up," he said. "You see people going to the combine and when you finally get there, it's like 'Oh my gosh. I'm at the combine.' It's a lot of pressure and a lot (of) anxiety and excitement and definitely a great opportunity for me to be there, but I'm glad I finished that and now I have the pro day."

As for the 40 hurting his draft position, Te'o isn't sure.

"The 40 time measures what the 40 time is supposed to measure," he said. "That's something I'm going to get better at it. The only way from here is up and I'm going to definitely get better. As far as my play, flip on the film."

Te'o better hope teams don't judge him based on his last performance. He played poorly in Notre Dame's blowout loss to Alabama in the national championship game.

"You prepare, you work hard, you hope for the best," he said. "I don't (know) where specifically I'm going to go. I just hope that one of those 32 places become my home."

Te'o said teams didn't ask him inappropriate questions.

"Everything they asked me, I answered honestly and I didn't feel uncomfortable," he said. "It was a good experience, more positive happened than negative."



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