Two days after Deadspin reported that Lennay Kekua, the girlfriend of Notre Dame All-American Manti Te’o who supposedly passed away last September, was a hoax, Te’o broke his silence to ESPN in a two and a half hour off-camera interview.
As one would imagine, Te’o denied playing any sort of role in the hoax. Here are highlights of what ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap has reported so far:
- Te’o says he never had any part in the hoax and never made anything up to help his Heisman candidacy.
- Te’o did, however, say he lied to his father about having met Kekua. Te’o confessed that he “kind of catered [his] stories” about Kekua to suggest that they had met.
- Te’o claimed “Two guys and a girl are responsible for the whole thing.” When asked who they were, Te’o replied “I don’t know. According to Ronaiah, Ronaiah’s one.”
- Te’o says he was never asked for money, but Kekua once requested his checking account number to send him money. Te’o did not give her the number.
- Apparently confirming a CBSSports report released earlier Friday evening, Te’o said he tried to speak with Kekua via Skype and Facetime on several occasions, but that he only saw a “black box” on the other end.
- Te’o said that he began contact with Kekua on Facebook his freshman year. Things “got serious” on April 28, the day he was told she’d been in a car crash. The relationship is described by Te’o as being intermittent.
- When asked why he never visited Kekua in the hospital, Te’o replied “It never really crossed my mind. I don’t know. I was in school.”
- Te’o claims he and Kekua got in an argument when she called him after his grandmother passed away. “She was saying, ‘You know, I’m trying to be here for you.’ I didn’t want to be bothered. I wanted to be left alone. I just wanted to be by myself. Last thing she told me was ‘Just know I love you.’ “
- Te’o told ESPN that, until two days ago, he was not fully convinced Kekua didn’t exist. That’s when Te’o said he received an apology from Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man believed to be behind the hoax and Kekua’s cousin, according to Te’o. (A note: Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in Wednesday’s press conference that Te’o was the victim of a hoax and that the university handed the information over to a PI firm that returned a report on Jan. 4.)
- According to Te’o, a group of people related to Tuiasosopo showed up at Notre Dame’s team hotel for the BCS National championship game.
- The first time Te’o said he met Tuiasosopo was after Notre Dame beat USC on Nov. 24. Deadspin reported that Te’o and Tuiasosopo “definitely knew each other” but how was unclear.
There is also an interesting read from the USA Today which was published late Friday night. The paper reports that the cousin of Tuiasosopo faced many parallels in her life similar to Kekua, including a battle with leukemia.
Earlier today, “Outside the Lines” spoke with three people who believed Tuiasosopo was in fact orchestrating a hoax on Te’o, with one person claiming he confessed to the act to her in December. Later in the afternoon, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that Kekua (or, a voice speaking as Kekua) told Te’o via telephone on Dec. 6 during the college football awards show that she had faked her death to hide from drug dealers.
A key piece of Lane Kiffin‘s 2018 recruiting puzzle is no more.
On his personal Twitter account very late Tuesday night, Charles Cameron announced that “[it is] with great regret that I inform you of my decision to not continue my education and football career at Florida Atlantic University.” Cameron gave no indication as to what his football future holds, including whether or not he’ll move on to another program.
The defensive tackle had transferred into the Owls from a Mississippi junior college earlier this offseason.
Cameron was a three-star member of FAU’s 2018 recruiting class. Only one signee in the Owls’ class this year was rated higher than Cameron — fellow defensive tackle Marcel Southall out of a Texas junior college.
Prior to his departure, the lineman had been expected to play immediately this coming season.
The talk has officially come to fruition.
Earlier this month, Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich confirmed that he had been involved in scheduling talks with several Power Five programs, including LSU. Wednesday, both of those football programs announced a future home-and-home series pitting the ACC Tigers against the SEC Tigers.
The two teams will meet first at Memorial Stadium (aka Death Valley) in Clemson, South Carolina on August 30, 2025. The following season, LSU will play host to Clemson Sept. 5 in Baton Rouge’s Tiger Stadium (aka Death Valley).
“The series against LSU continues the philosophy we have had at Clemson for many years of looking to add another Power 5 opponent to our schedule outside of our annual rivalry game with the University of South Carolina,” Radakovich said in a statement. “We are excited about playing a school with LSU’s rich football tradition. We know our fans will enjoy visiting Baton Rouge, and we know they will provide our renowned Clemson hospitality to the fans from LSU.”
“We have put an emphasis on bringing Power 5 teams outside of the Southeastern Conference to Tiger Stadium as often as we can,” Radakovich’s LSU counterpart, Joe Alleva, said in his statement. “It’s what we want and most importantly it’s what our fans want.”
The 2025 game will mark the first-ever regular season matchup between the two schools. They have met in the postseason three different times — the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl, 1996 Peach Bowl and 1959 Sugar Bowl.
The SEC Tigers hold a 2-1 edge in those bowl games.
And then there were two
Earlier in the day Tuesday, rumors surfaced that, after neither showed up for practice, two LSU quarterbacks, Justin McMillan and Lowell Narcisse, were considering transfers from the Tigers. Tuesday night, Narcisse announced on his personal Twitter account that he has indeed pulled the trigger on a transfer.
The redshirt sophomore came to his decision “[a]fter sitting down and talking with my parents.” Narcisse wrote that he wants “a fresh start and be able to have an opportunity to showcase my Abilities.”
Just over 13 hours later, McMillan took to the same social media website to announce the same decision. McMillan pulled the trigger on a transfer after meeting with the Tigers’ coaching staff Wednesday morning.
With the departures of McMillan and Narcisse, LSU is left with just two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster — presumptive front-runner to start and Ohio State transfer Joey Burrow; and four-star 2017 signee and last year’s primary backup Myles Brennan. There are two other quarterbacks currently listed on the Tigers’ roster — Tennessee Tech transfer sophomore Andre Sale and true freshman Jordan Loving.
There is some level of good news in the seemingly dire depth at the position as, if something were to happen to Burrow and Brennan, Sale started seven games for his former FCS school before transferring to the Tigers in January of this year. So the quarterback room has that going for them, which is nice.
As for the first of the two departed ones, Narcisse, the St. James, LA, product was a four-star member of LSU’s 2017 recruiting class. He took a redshirt last season after enrolling early as he continued to rehab significant knee injuries he sustained in high school.
McMillan, meanwhile, has already graduated from LSU. He’s thrown exactly one more pass in his collegiate career than I have, but would be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school if that’s the tack he takes.
It’s not even remotely worrisome to the point of full-blown fretting, but there’s at least a pause for concern.
Alabama running back Najee Harris missed Monday’s practice with what is being described as a lower-body injury. Tuesday, Harris missed his second consecutive day of practice because of the same injury.
BamaCentral.com wrote that “Harris was seen before practice with his leg in a small scooter so he can keep his weight off of it.” It’s believed the sophomore suffered the injury during the Crimson Tide’s scrimmage this past Saturday.
It remains unclear how much longer Harris will be sidelined, although al.com reported the injury, which that website is saying involves one of the back’s feet, will probably sideline him for the next couple of weeks of practice. On a positive front, that same site notes that there’s a “good chance” Harris is available for the opener Sept. 1 against Louisville.
Head coach Nick Saban is not scheduled to meet again with the media until Thursday, which will likely be the next official update on Harris’ status moving forward.
Last season as a true freshman, Harris finished fourth on the Tide in rushing yards (370) and rushing touchdowns (three). He averaged more than six yards per on his 61 carries.
The good news is that, outside of Harris, ‘Bama returns two of its leading rushers from a year ago — Damien Harris (team-leading 1,000 yards) and Josh Jacobs (284) — should the other Harris’ injury linger on beyond the next couple of weeks.