Monday, November 20, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Te'o faces questioning at combine

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INDIANAPOLIS — Manti Te'o walked into a crowded room of reporters Saturday, took a breath and settled in for 15 minutes of NFL scouting combine history.

Again, the former Notre Dame linebacker explained how he had been duped into an Internet romance he had with a girlfriend he never met. He did his best to turn the page on an embarrassing chapter by talking football.

He answered every question with thoughtful deliberation and tried to provide clarity on a hoax that turned one of the nation's most inspirational college players into the butt of jokes.

"I cared for somebody. That's what I was taught to do ever since I was young. Somebody needs help, you help them out," Te'o said.

The news conference was the most anticipated event of the NFL's second-biggest offseason weekend.

The too-good-to-be-true Te'o story began with his incredible performances — leading to his Heisman Trophy candidacy — after learning his grandmother and what he believed was his girlfriend had died within hours of one another in September.

Then the whole story unraveled and last month it was revealed that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, 22, created the online persona of Lennay Kekua, a nonexistent woman.

"It's pretty crazy," Te'o said. "I've been in front of a few cameras before, but never as many as this."

Other facing tough questions were former Georgia LB Alec Ogletree, who was suspended for four games last season and had a DUI arrest last weekend, and two other former SEC stars — Tennessee WR Da'Rick Rogers and LSU CB Tyrann Mathieu — who acknowledged they tested positive for drugs in college.

"I don't really know what it's going to do (to my draft stock), but like I said, I feel bad about it, and I'm really sorry about it," Ogletree said.

Turning heads: A 305-pound offensive line prospect from Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Terron Armstead, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.71 seconds. For good measure, Armstead (34½ inches) posted the best vertical jump among linemen as well. OT Lane Johnson of Oklahoma (4.72 in the 40, 34-inch vertical leap at 303 pounds) was very close behind in workouts. Among tight ends, Arkansas' Chris Gragg was the fastest (4.50) and jumped highest (37½).

Bears: Mike Groh, the receivers coach at Alabama the past two seasons, was named to the same post.

Surgery delay: Former Oregon LB Dion Jordan will miss at least three months; he'll have surgery next week on a labrum issue, profootballtalk.com reported.

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Published: 11/19/17
Updated: 11/20/17