TAMPA, Fla. -- Apologies for being out of pocket the past few hours, but I was on assignment as an upcoming episode of Gruden’s QB Camp was being filmed.
You know the show. Former Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden puts quarterbacks through work in the film room, on the chalkboard and sometimes on the field. But this one was a little different because the camper was Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.
Gruden’s had some non-quarterbacks on the show before, but Te’o will be the first linebacker. Gruden also brought in a special guest to be part of the show. Enter one of the best linebackers in NFL history -- Derrick Brooks.
I caught up with Brooks after he was done and asked the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers star and current president of the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena League for his scouting report on Te’o.
“He’s impressive," Brooks said. “His football knowledge on the board and knowing what everybody on the defense is supposed to be doing. You can tell he’s comfortable with communicating. That shows up on the tape as well as in person. I think, for him, it’s just a matter of keeping doing what he’s doing. I think he’s looking forward to just getting drafted. As I told him, once you’re drafted, that’s over with. You’re only drafted once and accept that position whatever it is and go to work."
Brooks said he also brought up the infamous hoax that was played on Te’o.
“I told him to expect players to ask him about it. Have fun with it," Brooks said. “At this point, laugh at yourself. That’s the best icebreaker you can have in the locker room. Have fun with it. Say your two or three words about it and it’s over. He only has to do it once. He’ll win his teammates over and win their support once they get in and see how much this kid loves football. I think the team will then come to his defense and keep everything about football. He just needs to be himself. He wants to be successful and I think he will be."