NEW YORK (AP) — Manti Te’o is headed to San Diego.
The Notre Dame All-America linebacker was chosen sixth in the second round by the Chargers, drawing a loud roar from the fans at Radio City Music Hall. Te’o, who led the Fighting Irish to the national championship game, was projected as a first-rounder last year. But his poor performance in a rout at the hands of Alabama, some slow workouts, and a hoax involving a fake girlfriend dropped his stock.
When former Chargers defensive back Jim Hill was handed the card to make the announcement by Commissioner Roger Goodell, he was told, “You’re going to get a big cheer when you announce this pick.”
It was more a mix of surprise and recognition of the most talked-about player in the draft finally finding a landing spot at No. 38 overall.
The Chargers traded up with Arizona to grab Te’o, whose tabloid-ready story of the woman who supposedly died during the season — only for the Heisman Trophy runner-up to acknowledge in January that he had been a victim of a hoax — made for a national soap opera.
Te’o ran a 4.82-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, slow for a linebacker. He did better at Notre Dame’s pro day, but NFL teams already had plenty of football reasons to doubt his worthiness as a first-round pick.
The regular-season dominance by the 6-foot-1, 240-pound All-American now seems so long ago. He led one of the top defenses in the country for an undefeated team. His seven interceptions were more than any other linebacker in 2012, and he finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting behind Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
He was the third linebacker chosen in this draft.
AP Sports Writer Rachel Cohen contributed to this story.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.