INDIANAPOLIS – Linebacker Manti Te’o was not the only player at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine answering questions about the online hoax.
His Notre Dame teammates were also asked about their knowledge of the incident.
Running back Cierre Wood was Te’o’s next-door neighbor, but had no idea that anything was amiss with Te’o’s story.
“He told us about his girlfriend,” Wood said. “But it's not like I'm going to be like, 'Well, OK, what's her social-security number? What does her mom do? What grade is her sister in?' I don't really care. That's his business and I'm going to stay out of it.”
Fighting Irish tight end Tyler Eifert knew that Te’o had nothing to do with the hoax as soon as the reports broke.
“I knew right when it came there was no way he had anything to do with it,” he said. “Manti is one of my good friends and he's a good person with a good heart. He's just got stuck in a bad situation.”
That situation has affected other Notre Dame players here at the combine as they’ve been questioned about the news.
Wood said that though he expected teams to ask him about Te’o, none have thus far.
As his neighbor, Wood saw the increased attention first-hand.
“We already had people coming to our doors asking for autographs and stuff like that,” he said. “But as soon as that happened, the way that progressed was ten-fold.”
Te’o’s teammates haven’t changed their perspective on the All-American team captain, who was well-respected inside the Notre Dame locker room.
“There is no handbook on how to handle that situation,” said Eifert, who has been working out with Te’o at IMG in Florida. “He took the advice of people that he trusted and I think he handled it as well as he could have.”
That encouragement has been felt by Te’o, who thanked his well-wishers to close his press conference on Saturday.
“It’s been a hard but tremendous ride for me and my family and the University of Notre Dame,” he said. “I’d like to thank my parents, my family, my friends, the University of Notre Dame and everybody who supports me. I couldn’t do it without all of you.”