On campus, the mood was still supportive, though some students were looking for answers, too.
“I’d like to know more, but I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt, that he’s just being gullible,” said Stephen Raab, a chemical engineer freshman from Bloomington, Minn.
Long Tran, who roomed with Te’o in his freshman and sophomore years, said he “wholeheartedly” believes his friend was the victim of the hoax, not a willing participant, as was suggested in the Deadspin report.
“Funny thing, I think he went to classes more than I did and I’m an engineering major,” Tran said. “During regular season, he would barely go out. Most of the times, he didn’t have the time to with his training schedule. He stayed focused 100 percent. I remember one time, a football player came into our room drunk and was talking to Manti, asking him why he didn’t go out with them. Manti responded, ‘Because we have practice tomorrow.’ He was definitely sociable. He knew most people in the dorm and everyone knew who he was, obviously.”
Tran said he knew nothing about Lennay Kekua, the online girlfriend who supposedly died of leukemia during the season but, it turns out, didn’t even exist. Tran said Te’o wasn’t particularly tech savvy, saying the linebacker didn’t own a laptop his first two years at college.
“He was using my laptop to do his homework. If he was Skyping his family he would use my laptop,” Tran said.
Tran said Te’o kept a low profile and didn’t date a lot. “Girls would come to the room and visit him and (Notre Dame cornerback) Lo Wood and hang out,” he said. “But there was no talk of an official girlfriend or anything.”