Manti Te'o Takes Huge Gamble by Snubbing Senior Bowl

Mike Hoag@MikeHoagJrCorrespondent IIJanuary 15, 2013

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 07:  Manti Te'o #5 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish warms up prior to playing against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game at Sun Life Stadium on January 7, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Manti Te’o has apparently declined his invitation to participate in the 2013 Senior Bowl, according to a statement from the Senior Bowl’s official Twitter page:

@allensullivans @seniorbowl Manti Te'o declined his invitation to participate.

— Senior Bowl (@seniorbowl) January 15, 2013

Te’o, the coveted linebacker for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, won several awards following his impressive senior season, including the 2012 Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year Lott Trophy, the Chuck Bednarik Award and the Butkus Award, among others. He was even one of three finalists for the Heisman Trophy.

Notre Dame, and Te’o in particular, have taken some criticism after being bullied and blown out by the Alabama Crimson Tide in the National Championship Game earlier this month.

The lasting impression of Te’o’s play from that game is one of endless questions marks.

Can the linebacker wrap up and play fundamental football against the top competition that exists in the NFL? Alabama’s offensive line featured more than a couple future pro-caliber linemen.

This is the time of the year when players’ draft stocks are built and broken.

Participating in the Senior Bowl is a huge asset for players to shoot up the boards and start generating buzz around their names.

It seems like a must-attend event for the linebacker after two consecutive losses—Heisman vote and title game—with the national spotlight brightly on him.

Whatever ends up happening with Te’o in the NFL, he isn’t doing his draft stock any favors by opting out of the Senior Bowl.

ESPN’s draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. still has him listed as No. 6 overall on his big board, but formerly said the Kansas City Chiefs should take him with the No. 1 overall selection back in November.

One thing is certain: Manti Te’o’s stock is hurting and he should be doing everything that he can to turn heads in the offseason months leading up to the draft.