SAN DIEGO (AP) — Manti Te’o is one of four draft picks who’ve signed contracts with the San Diego Chargers.
Te’o, the linebacker from Notre Dame, was picked by the Chargers in the second round after slipping out of the opening round in part because of a poor performance in the national championship game against Alabama.
Te’o also was part of a girlfriend hoax that drew national headlines.
But the Chargers’ new brain trust, general manager Tom Telesco and coach Mike McCoy, said they weren’t bothered by the scrutiny Te’o has been under the last four months. The Chargers even traded up in the second round to pick the linebacker.
Also signing four-year deals Thursday were third-round pick Keenan Allen, a wide receiver from California; sixth-rounder Tourek Williams, an outside linebacker from Florida International; and quarterback Brad Sorensen, a seventh-rounder from Southern Utah.
First-round pick D.J. Fluker, a tackle from Alabama, and fifth-rounder Steve Williams, a cornerback from Cal, remain unsigned.
Te’o became the butt of national jokes after it was revealed he was duped into an Internet romance with a girlfriend he never met.
The too-good-to-be-true story began with Te’o’s incredible performances after learning his grandmother and what he believed was his girlfriend had died within hours of one another in September. Te’o said it inspired him to play his best football all season, and it was so compelling that it helped turn Te’o into a Heisman Trophy contender as he was leading the Fighting Irish to an undefeated regular season and into the national title game.
On Dec. 26, Te’o notified Notre Dame officials that he had received a call from his supposedly dead girlfriend’s phone three weeks earlier.
The school investigated and – after Deadspin.com broke the story of the fake girlfriend – athletic director Jack Swarbrick announced at a news conference that Te’o had been duped. Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, 22, later said he created the online persona of Lennay Kekua, a nonexistent woman who Te’o said he fell in love with despite never meeting her in person.
A Chargers rookie minicamp runs Friday through Sunday.